WAu! - Focus in Western Australia

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WAu! exhibition is composed of the art of West Australian aboriginal people and the works of internationally acknowledged photography artists and a fine art graphic artist. The exhibition is carried out in co-operation with art center Warlayirti Artists Aboriginal Corporation in Balgo, Great Sandy Desert. The western state of Australia includes about one third of the vast continent, and art reflects versatilely its uniqueness. Art reflects the history of the country and its inhabitants with their characteristics – the short history of those with European background and the history of aboriginal people which is thousands of years old. We can see merger and clash, something strange and something oddly familiar to us. Isolation, sparsely populated country, deserted landscape and harsh conditions in nature may arouse feelings of identifying in a Finnish viewer.

The aboriginal art of the exhibition comes from Balgo in the middle of the large desert, Great Sandy Desert. The distance to the nearest city is 270 kilometers. Warlayirti, the aboriginal community, attempts to live honouring their own traditions. Sometimes it is really challenging because the community still lives in the pressure of the traumas caused by colonialism and the culture and politics practiced by the mainstream. Art has an important role as the bearer of the community spirit.

A firm and respectful relationship with land is conveyed from the aboriginal art. Art is a natural part of everyday life. Art transmits knowledge about land, traditions and important myths and ceremonies. Therefore art and making art are always the part of the ceremony. The ancient aboriginal concept ‘dreamtime’ is essentially related to art. Dreamtime involves all the philosophy associated to religion and existence.

The photographic artists are the descendants of European immigrants. Their relationship to the land and landscape shows a point of view of another kind. Their visions are bare and straight, even ironic. Every artist has his own manner of approach to the subject. In their photos we can see desolated towns, and marks in people and landscapes left by harsh conditions. All the elements associated with the Australian way of life are there; the ocean and the beach, desolated mining towns, quiet and torrid streets on the detached house areas, portraits of people. There are also abstract statements concerning mindscapes and nature destruction.

The artists in the exhibition: Jacqueline Ball, Kevin Ballantine, Helen Clarke, Mike Grey, Imelda (Yukenbarri) Gugaman, Helicopter (Joey Tjungurrayi), Lucy Loomoo, Graham Miller, Marie Mudgedell, Patsy Mudgedell, Dora Mungkirna, Ningie Eileen Nanala, Bai Bai Napangarti, Elisabeth Nyumi, Kathleen Paddoon, Brad Rimmer, Angie Topsy Tchooga, Jimmy Tchooga, Juha Tolonen and Nora Wombi.

The exhibition is curated by Jaana Lönnroos, the visual artist and the expert of the aboriginal art. President Tarja Halonen serves as the protector of the exhibition. 

Photos: Graham Miller "Dave" 2015 ja Jimmy Tchooga "Warlu Dreaming"
1/27/2018–5/27/2018 11:00 AM–6:00 PM