John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new
DatesTue 24 Nov 2020 - Sun 17 Jan 2021
Tuesday to Sunday
Header image: John Mawurndjul, ‘The Artist at Work: Dolobbo bim (Bark Painting)’, photographic essay by Jenni Carter, first published in Crossing Country: The Alchemy of Western Arnhem Land Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2004, photograph: Jenni Carter
John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new reunites works of art made across a 40-year period. The artist has led the development of this exhibition, which describes in Kuninjku (and English) his places of special cultural significance known as kunred, as well as the sacred places and spirits – or Djang – that resurface time and time again in his art-making. We also encounter the animals and spirit beings that populate these locations including female water spirits (yawkyawk), rainbow serpents (ngalyod) and mischievous mimih spirits.
The places around western Arnhem Land that recur in his work include spring-fed creeks such as Milmilngkan, sandstone escarpments including Ngandarrayo and the white clay quarries of the seasonal creek called Kudjarnngal. The materials used by Mawurndjul to make his art come from these places: the stringy bark eucalypt skins that form the body of his bark paintings; the white clay, yellow and red ochres mined from sacred deposits that become paint; and the manyilk, the paint brush sedge that makes the single strand brushes that the artist uses to make cross hatching or rarrk.
The Mardayin ceremony, comprising rituals of a sacred nature, and informing so much of Mawurndjul’s work, remains a timeless narrative thread that links the past to the present, and sheds light on Kuninjku future – embracing the old and the new. This exhibition was developed and co-presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia, in association with Maningrida Arts & Culture.
Behind-the-scenes talk with Kasi Albert & Kathryn Sawyer
Take a tour behind the scenes with our colleagues from the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Conservator Kasi Albert and Touring Exhibition Coordinator Kathryn Sawyer share with us what it takes to care for and tour artworks in I am the old and the new.
Curatorial talk with Nici Cumpston OAM & Dr. Lisa Slade
Did you miss our opening week online curator talk on Facebook? Hear from our Art Gallery of South Australia colleagues and exhibition co-curators Nici Cumpston OAM and Dr. Lisa Slade as they discuss working with John Mawurndjul AM to develop I am the old and the new.
Gheran Yarraman Steel Welcome to Country for John Mawurndjul
We are very honoured to be able to present this Welcome to Country video (and accompanying transcript) of Gheran Yarraman Steel welcoming the artist John Mawurndjul and his exhibition to Bunjil Place Gallery.
Gheran Yarraman Steel – Boonwurrung Traditional Owner – draws from 20 years of experience in operations and people management in the commercial sectors, as well as in the not-for-profit sector, where he proudly served at the CEO of the Boon Wurrung Foundation, the Boonwurrung community’s representative body.
Out of respect we only published this Welcome to Country video during the opening week of the exhibition. We're happy to provide a full transcript of the video here.
Exhibition organised and toured by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government's Visions of Australia program.
Image: John Mawurndjul, Ngalyod (Female Rainbow Serpent) (detail), 1988, earth pigments on Stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta), Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds donated by Mr and Mrs Jim Bain, 1989 © John Mawurndjul / Copyright Agency, 2020, photograph: Jessica Maurer.
You can also book your free session in-venue at the Box Office desk, or by calling 9709 9700