Mel Little chats with CDU Art Gallery acting curator Kellie Joswig.
Rare Indigenous art on show for the first time.
A new exhibition drawing from a heritage collection of significant Yolngu bark paintings, sculptural objects, hollow logs and weavings, will open on 28 March at the Charles Darwin University (CDU) Art Gallery on Casuarina campus.
Reinvigorating the MECA Collection is a collaboration between CDU Art Collection and Art Gallery with Milingimbi Art and Culture, Bula’bula Arts and CDU’s Yolngu Studies, bringing together a stunning selection of 64 works from the Milingimbi Educational and Cultural Association (MECA) Collection, created in Arnhem Land in the 1970s.
This is the first time works from the MECA Collection have been on wider public display, following more than three decades in storage – held in trust for the community at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. “This project is less about the ‘curated’ exhibition and more about reinvigorating the MECA Collection as an important cultural asset for the people of Milingimbi and Ramingining. We hope it will inspire renewed conversations and connections within these communities and be a springboard for further projects with the MECA Collection.”
Close consultation between CDU Art Gallery and CDU Yolngu Studies with the communities of Milingimbi and Ramingining over the past three years has reinvigorated the works in an ongoing conservation and documentation project, made possible with both private and public funding support, and enabled the development of this exhibition.
“Staff from the CDU Yolngu Studies programs hope to get permission to incorporate the filmed documentation into their teaching, research and resources,” Ms Joswig said.
Highlights of the exhibition include bark paintings that depict the important ancestral narratives of the Wagilag Sisters and the Morning Star Story, as well as other inherited and clan-based designs on hollow logs and wood sculptures, by renowned artists, distinguished clan leaders and ceremonial custodians.