Pila Nguru Art of the Spinifex People

Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 07.08.02

Gallery: Cooee Art Gallery

'When the Spinifex people returned to their homelands in the 1980's after their displacement during the Maralinga atomic tests, they found the southern part of their country had been converted in to a nature reserve, the northern third leased to Aboriginal people to the north and the centre deemed vacant crown land. The Spinifex people were upset. They had never seen, they said, the Queen cleaning out rock-holes in their country.

The recognition of native title by the High Court of Australia in 1992, gave the Spinifex people the opportunity to rectify the misappropriation of their land.' So writes Scott Cain in the introduction to his book Pila Nguru, published this month by Fremantle Art Centre Press.

On 28 th of November 2001 the Federal Court of Australia visited the Spinifex homelands. Chief Justice Michael Black, sitting in black robes, backed by two traditional paintings of the Spinifex homelands, under the shade of a blue tarpaulin, formally recognised the native title rights of the Spinifex People.

In order to document their claim a suite of paintings were produced and used as evidence in the high court's deliberations. These paintings were subsequently given to the Western Australian Museum in a symbolic exchange of art for land.

Since successfully reclaiming their heritage Spinifex people have moved back on to their land and on successive field trips to specific locations have continued to record their sacred places in paintings quite different aesthetically than any others amongst Australian desert artists.

As they have no official 'art centre' all paintings are produced on a project basis on these 'back to country' journeys involving groups of people with their children, hardy vehicles and enough provisions to survive the often rugged distances travelled. The Spinifex Country is three times the size of Israel; twice the size of Tasmania.

Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery is proud to be the sole representative of the art of the Spinifex people. All works produced during the first field trip were sold at their inaugural exhibition in Sydney. Their second exhibition will be curated by Coo-ee Gallery at the Mary Place Gallery, Paddington, Sydney and will open on the 5th of August 2002. It will be posted on this web site during the week prior to the exhibition opening.

For more information please enter the contacts page of this site and send an email to the gallery staff.

Adrian Newstead
Executive Director.

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Contact Details

Gallery: Cooee Art Gallery
Contact: Mirri Leven
Email: info@cooeeart.com.au
Telephone: +61 2 9300 9233
Address: 31 Lamrock Ave Bondi Beach Sydney 2026 NSW



Where is the exhibition?
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