One of the distinguishing features of Aboriginal artists today is their strong affinity with materials. Through thousands of years of heritage they have dragged their pigments from the earth, whipped and thrashed bark into string and yarn and mat, and carved and sculpted and wrought.
And today, this immense skill set and relationship with materiality is turned towards contemporary art expression resulting in a range of exquisite objects and artworks.
The Euraba Artists and Papermakers collective have been producing high quality, uniquely Australian paper and paper based artworks since 1998. And now they have built themselves a home.
Achingly Australian, their paper mission home is currently on display at the Art Gallery of NSW. The stand-alone corrugated shed squats, shanty-like, emitting soft light and chatter as you draw near.
Illuminate reads as metaphor on several levels; the opacity of the handmade paper serves as projection screen for a series of four films, each projected onto one face of the corrugated cubic shed. Viewed against the paper corrugations, the films are muted in colour – the direct relationship between home and country filtered by the intervention of white Australia, imposed Christianity and hard-line racism. As the moving image flicks across vertical corrugations, ideas of incarceration- of being locked in and locked out simultaneously – urge a long journey towards the future, viewer reaching across to take hold and hear the stories told.
Close examination of the paper walls reveals each sheet as unique. Fibres reach out, twist and hold each other, tightly meshing and embedding stories of origin and destiny into a single layer. Each sheet is white and delicately sullied with fleck, barb and grass seed. A perfect metaphor for a mission home.
The artists involved in Illuminate are: Aunty May Hinch, Leonie Binge, Lola Binge, Donald Cubby, Paul Mackie, Matthew Priestly, Jonathan Jones and community members. In collaboration with Beyond Empathy, Armidale.
Achingly Australian, their stand-alone corrugated shed squats, shanty-like, emitting soft light and chatter as you draw near.
PLEASE NOTE: The following video contains names or images of deceased people.
The Euraba Artists and Papermakers are a group of Kamilaroi women working in Boggabilla. They make paper from collected cotton fabric, some of which has been made in the region. Much of their art deals with stories of their country, in particular the fish and animals of the river system.
This video, directed by Kylie McNamara (Moree Plains Gallery) made last year with the support of Jonathan Jones and Greg Appel, introduces the Euraba Artists and Papermakers and shows the artists at work. See the artists slumping paper onto moulds, pounding and pressing the pulp for embossing and their inspired, easy mark-making of motif and design.
The founding members of the group are: Joy Duncan, May Hinch, Adrienne Duncan, Marlene Hinch, Gloria Woodbridge, Margie Duncan, Jenny McIntosh, Maureen Mischlewski and the late Isobel Karkoe.
You can view the Euraba artists’ home country on the Aboriginal Map.
The Euraba Artists and Papermakers have works in collections in Moree Regional Art Centre and have participated in many exhibitions including ‘In the balance: art for a changing world’ (MCA 2010) and the Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art Prize 2010.