Skip to main content
Read page text

Editorial Sharing the meaning IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR when southerners find good excuses to head north; and when northerners, in their astute innovation, turn these excuses into attractive opportunities. Not that northerners always look exclusively to the south. In Noosa recently, at the majestic Lake Cootharaba for Floating Land, one sensed a more eastward or radial gaze across the Pacific.1 If Robyn Archer’s address on arts and sustainability at this event is to be taken up – coloured as it was by the sudden death of the King (of Pop) – then perhaps we need to more often support home-grown, local talent at the expense of global icons.

themselves, their people and those who care to see. As Maynard says: ‘We share meaning by living it.’

Self-suficiency is easier said than done – no woman or man is an island – which is why the arena of a festival or fair can so vitally build an audience and market for artists otherwise working in isolation. Erub (or Darnley) Island in the Torres Strait is one such case. As much as its newly established Erub Erwer Meta arts centre strives for self-suficiency among its 400-strong population, it also needs and deserves outside interest. And so the centre is one of several Queensland Indigenous artrelated enterprises heading (as is Art Monthly) to this month’s inaugural Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), the subject of our opening article. Here, seasoned arts writer Louise MartinChew asks CIAF Director Michael Snelling some curly questions to get at the nub of this initiative.

A brief interlude with a reminiscent Djon Mundine returns us to some less festive cultural truths … like the ease with which an Aboriginal perspective can be dismissed in the mirror-maze quest for ‘authenticity’.

This issue’s Indigenous stream moves away from Queensland and from the CIAF’s more tradition/remote community-oriented focus, expressed so resplendently in the work of Cairnsbased Billy Missi whose art graces this month’s cover. Artists such as r e a (the subject of Christine Nicholls’s scholarly essay) and Ricky Maynard (in retrospective, as per Larissa Behrendt’s revelatory review) help to lay bare the depth and struggle of Indigenous realities and histories – for

Darwin photographer Glenn Campbell would agree. His documentary-style series in black-andwhite brings us to another northern magnet – the Darwin Festival (coinciding with the Telstra NATSIAA) – and another theme this issue: war. Campbell, a recent Australian War Memorial commissioned photographer, and with war zone photojournalism under his belt, distils mood and meaning from the ruins-in-thelandscape of the Top End’s World War II frontline. Behrendt introduces the idea of the landscape as (war) memorial, bearing evidence of colonial frontier conflict, in her discussion of Maynard’s work. WWII-era Melbourne is ‘firmly rooted’ in the pages of Bruce Mutard’s The Sacrifice, one of two graphic novels roundly reviewed by Cefn Ridout. Even the CIAF takes place in former WWII navy fuel tanks now comprising the Tank Arts Centre.

The late South Australian sculptor John Dowie served his time as a war artist in WWII. Dennis Coleman’s portrait of this beloved Adelaide artist is supported by a swag of sculpturerelated articles: from the grand (Sculpture by the Sea’s international outing in Denmark, and Jeff Koons in the Palace of Versailles), the ‘soft’ ( Soft Sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia), and the small-scale of Gerry Wedd’s punchy ceramic allegories, to the imminent – Goulburn Regional Art Gallery’s outdoor sculpture event Wandering the Wollondilly which opens early August.

There’s also oodles of art-love to share this month in the south of South Australia. Check out the annual South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival ( www.salafestival.com ) – at last count, 500 venues and 2773 visual artists – and its highlights in our Artnotes section.

Yours (in a north-south sway) Maurice

Notes 1. Floating Land is a biennial ephemeral public sculpture event which this year included local Aboriginal and nonAboriginal artists along with those from New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu and New Zealand. See Art Monthly # 220 June 2009 for related article by Tamsin Kerr.

TOP: Florence Gutchen, Gebai, 2009, inocut print. CENTRE: Erub Erwer Meta (Our Learning House at Erub), Darnley Island Arts Centre. ABOVE: Ella at work, Erub Island, on a ceramic piece to be exhibited at CIAF.

Images courtesy the artists and Erub Erwer Meta.

Supported by the ACT Government

Art Monthly Australia is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Art Monthly Australia is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments.

My Bookmarks


Skip to main content