Survival of the Fittest

Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 29.08.08

Interesting blog entry on the Wordy-Gurdy, blog, by Jackey Coyle:

If Darwinian theory can be summed up as the survival of the fittest, how apt that this, the silver anniversary of the Telstra NATSIA Award, is located in Darwin.
Talk was rife there two weeks ago, surrounding the withdrawal of some art centres in protest against the hanging of certain works. We attended a media conference to promote the Buy Right Way message. It missed the mark with the focus of hard-bitten journos on the conflict, and cameras on the most senior of the senior artists in attendance (through pure accident, in that most artists were arriving the next day or the day after).
I found myself questioning my own motives – was I being holier than thou? are we wasting our time fighting for provenance issues if artists truly don’t care? And questioning other, previously trusted, people who are now contradicting themselves. Who can be trusted and who can’t?
It was an unreal time in that way when you’re grieving – for a departed friend, for a father withdrawn markedly into his cone of Alzheimer’s over the past six months.
The living and the dead; the past and the present. These dominated the choices this week. Warmun or funeral? Art centre way or old, private dealer way?
But with the sleet comes sunshine, in the persons of our artists who were shortlisted, and thus hung. Gabriel Nodea attired himself in style for the awards ceremony, and Shirley Purdie pulled grandchildren out of boarding school to swell the ranks with husband Gordon Barney and their daughter Blandina.
The artist preview is a ritual that sparkles in anticipation, sipping, nibbling, greeting and being photographed in the garden of MAGNT.
Walking through the hang is like being encased in a snowdome. The sparkly bits cascade when your artist sees their work. Time stops. You read the story on the plaque, so familiar yet new again, and that moment is perfect. Shirley’s metre-high ochre-painted carving of Mother & Child was highly commended – rightly so, we reckon.
We talked ourselves dry at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. We were the first show at the new waterside Darwin Convention Centre and the days zoomed by in a flurry of visitors from the whole spectrum of blacks, greys and whites of the Aboriginal art scene.
This year we weren’t alone. How different from last year, still very much caught-in-the-headlights new, just three months in the job. At the DAAF we launched Kimberley Aboriginal Artists with a whole Kimberley wall, sharing a stall with sister art centre Waringarri and sister coordinator Cathy Cummins.
Waringarri began in 1985 and many of our mob started out there. The work’s different, still ochre, but sings beside ours.
Now we’re back, and have hardly had a moment to write a to-do list for a week and a half. It’s stinking hot, with thunderstorms last night and a monster king brown around. Three metres long, Liza reckons, with a body as thick as a woman’s wrist and a wannabe head on its tail. Jude says he was chased by one once, on the farm. I’m just making sure there’s always a shovel around. Hospital is 200km away.

URL: http://jackeyswordygurdy.blogspot.com/2008/08/survival-of-fittest.html


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