Art from nature in Top End Ochre

More than 25 years of regular visits to Australia’s Top End by writer and curator Susan McCulloch have resulted in a large exhibition of barks, paintings and carvings at Everywhen Artspace – the gallery Susan runs with her daughter Emily McCulloch Childs in Flinders. 

“We’ve always included barks and carvings since we started showing Aboriginal art on the Peninsula 10 years ago,” says Susan. “However this is the first time we’ve done an extensive exhibition on this theme.” 

The timing was chosen in part to coincide with a major exhibition at the Melbourne Museum called “Midawarr | Harvest’ which explores the plants of north-east Arnhem Land by Yolgnu bark artist Mulkun Wirrpanda and landscape painter John Wolseley.

 “We’ve been working with Mulkun’s Arnhem Land community art centre Buku Larrnggay Mulka for many years and have had a particular interest in her work and that of her daughters Yalmakany and Gurrundul” says Susan. “The three have had a sustained practice of recording the plants of their region and its related fauna in beautifully detailed barks, carvings and more recently, prints.” 

“We are fortunate to have acquired for this exhibition a rare 2 metre bark painting by Mulkun and three impressive larrakitj (ceremonial poles).” 

Included also in the 60+ works on show are Mimih, Yawk Yawk and other wooden ceremonial carvings by leading artists from the Arnhem Land community of Maningrida such as Susan Marawarr, Samson Bonson and Owen Yalandja and Tiwi bird carvings and ochre paintings from Tiwi Design and Munupi Arts. 

“There is a wonderfully organic nature to these subtle works made from natural materials that make for a great fusion of ancient stories and contemporary art.”   

Top End Ochre will be opened with a floor talk by Susan McCulloch on May 11 at 2pm and runs until June 4. 

EVERYWHEN ARTSPACE, 1/39 Cook St, Flinders
Open daily 10.30am-4pm
T: 03 5989 0496 

First published in Peninsula Essence – May 2019