aMBUSH Gallery at ANU’s picturesque Kambri precinct reopens today with a colourful exhibition on culture and identity, Mirrung.
Mirrung – meaning ‘belonging’ in Dharug, the Sydney language – is an exciting exhibition blending the artistic talents of Indigenous brother and sister, David and Noni Cragg, who are inspired by their First Nations, Scottish and Irish background.
Combining Noni’s portraiture with David’s landscape and florals – each informing the other – the pair use their art to explore notions of belonging and community, as well as representation and intersectionality.
The exhibition is the first in a series of joint projects the pair have lined up this year, aiming to amplify diversity, First Nations narratives and connection to country. Mirrung will showcase over a dozen collaborative works, featuring portraits of people connected in some way to the Arts.
Their choice of subjects was a deliberate attempt to explore the range of cultural backgrounds that make up Australia, and question the concept of what it means to be ‘Australian’.
As David explains, “All the subjects we painted are creatives in one way or another, and everyone comes from culturally diverse backgrounds. They’re creatives who we admire because of their achievements in their respective fields.”
Among those featured are: Lily Keenan, a Sydney-based artist who creates playful, abstract imagery inspired by nature; Yuta Matsumura, an Australian-born Japanese musician and artist; Fevzi Musa, a young queer artist performing drag in Sydney; and Allya and Soumia Bella, a couple of African-Kiwi, third culture kids raised in Australia. Allya is a queer woman of colour with high key relentless enthusiasm for life while Soumia is the Radio Producer for Little Yarns, a podcast for children celebrating the languages and cultures of First Nations peoples at ABC.
David and Noni have been painting and drawing together since they were children, encouraged by their mother and grandmother, who have always supported their art and ensured they had access to art supplies.
Using a range of favoured mediums for Mirrung – including aerosols, acrylic paint, and markers on canvas – these multimedia works are comprised of many layers of paint, and are a fusion of their styles. The resulting rainbow-coloured artworks each tell a story that the siblings hope will be an obvious veering away from the homogenised, privileged, ‘Colonial Settler’ narrative that has historically dominated modern Australian art.
A classically trained painter, Noni studied at the National Art School in Sydney and has exhibited in a number of solo and group shows, developing a reputation for her colourful, intricate portraits. She also works as a writer, actor, model and activist with NFP charity, The Rough Period, which she co-founded with friend Jasmine Coronado.
David has a long background in graphic design and street art, having worked with some of Australia’s leading artists in this area, and studying at Bradfield Design College and the Design Centre in Enmore. He also works as a disability support worker.
“I feel blessed that we’ve been able to keep this relationship so good to the point now that we’re working together like this, it’s like a dream come true,” he says.
The exhibition will be open daily from 10am-6pm weekdays and 12pm-5pm on weekends. Admission is free and all artworks are for sale.
Video Credit: Woroni TV
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BENDING LIGHT. Using an unconventional photographic practice, artist Daniel ‘Ears’ O’Toole (@captainearwax) captured a series of images on 35mm colour film, applying a two-stage process to deliberately distort form and figure, before reproducing them as murals at Sydney's Liberty Place in 2017. Video by @selinamiles
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