Aboriginal culture has always been a vital component of Australian history, with art being perhaps its most iconic facet. Art Mob, an Aboriginal fine art gallery located in Hobart, Tasmania, forefronts not only the rawness and beauty of Aboriginal art, but also the stories that lay just beneath the canvas. Ultimately, I had to see it for myself.
I arrived early. I was attending the opening night of Art Mob’s Pitjantjatjarra Pictured exhibit, an Aboriginal art exhibit from Ninuku Arts in APY Land, and there were already a handful of people quietly observing the artwork – wonderfully textured, colourful, and intricately designed pieces from this remote part of Australia.
The gallery’s second exhibit from the northwest corner of South Australia, the first being displayed back in 2003, Pitjantjatjarra Pictured features pieces from Harry Tjutjuna, Jimmy Donegan, Jennifer Forbes, and Angela Watson, some of which have already sold, with one already on its way to Switzerland.
I looked around the room admiring the craftsmanship, completely mesmerised. Each piece offered up a different style, technique and story, demonstrating the artistic story telling that so closely accompanies Aboriginal culture.
Rita Watson’s “Tjintita Tjukurpa” (number 12) was beautiful and thought provoking. Her work offers a contrasting vibrancy of colour and tells the story of a woman Lizard, Linga, drinking from the rockhole Tjintita, where an army of water snakes decide to kill her.
A little after 6pm, Euan Hills, the owner of Art Mob, gave a quick speech about APY land and officially opened the exhibit with a moment’s silence for the late Aboriginal musician Dr. G. Yunupingu and the playing of the opening track from his self-titled album.
I later asked Euan how this exhibit would assist the artists and communities currently supported by Ninuku Arts, namely Pipalyatjara and Kalka. He explained that, unlike other galleries, he purchased the exhibit’s artwork outright, ensuring the artists received immediate financial compensation for their artistic contributions.
Though limited to the Hobart area, this exhibit is an experience worth indulging in, no matter your location. Aboriginal culture is a vital component of Australian history, with traditional art playing an iconic role. Each piece in the exhibit offers a unique view of how each artist views their own culture, stories and style.
Regardless of your historical knowledge, this exhibit undoubtedly delivers diverse themes, national appreciation and stories that deserve to be shared. The exhibition runs at Art Mob in Hobart, Tasmania from August 3rd -20th 2017.