STANDING ON CEREMONY The Utopia Journey

Anna Kanaris | 2-May-2016
The historical importance of the #Utopia artists from the eastern central desert in remote Australia will be the focus of #Artitja Fine Art's forthcoming exhibition STANDING ON CEREMONY The Utopia Journey to be opened by Janet Holmes à Court AC on Thursday May 5th
Venue: Earlywork
Address: 330 South Tce, South Fremantle
Date: 5-22 May 2016
Time: Wed-Sun 11-5pm
Buy / Ticket: info@artitja.com.au
Web: http://www.artitja.com.au/current-exhibition/
: http://www.artitja.com.au/artitjafineart
EMail: info@artitja.com.au
Call: 0418 90 954
Ada Bird Petyarre 114x103cm Awelye - Women's Ceremony
The historical importance of the Utopia artists from the eastern central desert in remote Australia will be the focus of Artitja Fine Art's forthcoming exhibition STANDING ON CEREMONY The Utopia Journey to be opened by Janet Holmes à Court AC.

The heady days which saw the emergence of the Aboriginal art movement in central Australia in the 1970's leading to the discovery of famed artists such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye will be bought to life at the exhibition which opens on Thursday 5th May in South Fremantle.

Utopia, 270km NE of Alice Springs was named such in the late 1920's, as the story goes, after the two brothers granted the pastoral lease to the 1800 sq km tract of land almost perished after losing their direction but were saved when they stumbled across a water source and a rabbit, leading them to believe they had found their Utopia!

For decades many of the Aboriginal population had worked as jackaroos and jillaroos at Utopia station in what was largely a cooperative relationship with the stations owners and in 1979 the legal title of the land was handed back to the traditional Indigenous owners.

In the late 1970's they turned their hand to more creative pursuits learning batik printing and in 1988, eighty eight artists embarked upon a project in which they would each produce a silk batik length. The result would culminate in an exhibition entitled Utopia - A Picture Story and the entire collection was acquired by the Robert Holmes à Court Collection the following year.

"The purpose of this exhibition is to highlight the history and importance of the Utopia artists, who have been documented over the past several decades and beyond as a highly sophisticated group of fine artists." says Anna Kanaris, gallery Director. "After the batik success they changed their preferred medium to painting and wood carving and continue to do so".

A widely painted theme is Awelye "“ Women's Ceremony a body paint design highlighting the importance of ceremony in keeping culture and country alive. "It's not only women who paint, the men do also, however the women have been more experimental and willing to push the boundaries in their story telling designs." says Kanaris.

The Utopia artists differ from many of the art producing areas in remote Australia in that they are an independent group who have always been skilled at marketing themselves and have over the years purposely veered away from the standard art centre model.

"These artists are a savvy group of people who understand the art market and haven't felt the need to work in a more regulated manner" says Kanaris "This model works for them, it probably wouldn't for many others and I think this has to do with the history of both their personal involvement and evolvement".

The exhibition will include paintings by renowned Utopia artists such as sisters Ada, Gloria and Nancy Petyarre through to a younger generation of artists including Charmaine Pwerle and Selina Teece.

Collection & Exhibitions Manager of the Janet Holmes à Court Collection, Sharon Tassicker and Anna Kanaris will hold a curatorial talk on the history of Utopia and the HAC Collection on Saturday 7th May at 2pm.

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