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My Country: Contemporary Art from Black Australia

Media Release: 27 March 2014
My Country: Contemporary Art from Black Australia opening tomorrow at Auckland Art Gallery

Be moved by the power and beauty of My Country: Contemporary Art from Black Australia opening tomorrow at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

Featuring the work of 46 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, My Country gives New Zealanders the chance to explore Indigenous Australian culture though a wide range of mediums, including film, photography, installation, painting, drawing and sculpture. Highlights include The Oyster Fisherman, a photographic series by Fiona Foley who this week received the Australia Council Visual Arts Award; I Forgive You, Bindi Cole’s touching work of Emu feathers made in response to Kevin Rudd’s 2008 apology; and Stranded, Warwick Thornton’s epic and immersive 3D film.

A full programme of film screenings, activities and talks – many of them free – complements the exhibition, and offers opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous Australians’ relationships with land, country and people.

The Kangaroo Crew, created by Aboriginal artist Gordon Hookey of the Waanyi people (Northern Queensland) and presented alongside My Country, is a free family space for kids to discover the story of The Sacred Hill. Following a group of Kangaroos whose hill is invaded by a flock of exotic birds, children can play ‘Kangarcade’ games and create their own masks and posters in this fun, interactive space. A Story Corner stocked full of indigenous tales from Australia and New Zealand is also popping up in the Gallery’s main atrium for families to enjoy.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Director Rhana Devenport says, ‘As New Zealand’s leading visual arts institution, it’s vital for the Gallery to support Indigenous art, whether it’s from New Zealand or further afield. Auckland is a vibrant city where Māori, Pacific, Asian and European cultures meet – by presenting Indigenous art exhibitions we’re able to foster greater understanding and encourage positive relationships between cultures.

My Country, Five Māori Painters, Arnold Wilson - Pou Ihi | Pou Whenua | Pou Tangata, and Jonathan Jones’s untitled (sum of the parts): these four projects celebrate the rich cultural heritage in this part of the world, and recognise the significance of Indigenous art at an international level.’

Auckland Art Gallery Principal Curator Zara Stanhope says, ‘The diverse range of artwork in My Country gives people an incredible insight into the lives and experiences of Indigenous Australians today.’

‘The exhibition covers three core themes, introducing visitors to ancestral myths as well as the politics of life today. My Country is intensely moving and doesn’t shy away from social and political issues that continue to affect Indigenous Australians, and celebrates the beauty of the art works in the exhibition.’

Opening highlights include:

Friday 28 March
• 12pm: Illustrated Talk – Deputy Director at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), and formerly Curator, Contemporary Pacific Art, Maud Page gives an illustrated talk that places contemporary Australian Aboriginal art in context with that produced by artists from the wider Pacific region.
• 3pm: Curator’s Tour – QAGOMA Curator, Indigenous Australian Art, Bruce McLean conducts a tour through the exhibition and discusses its three central themes: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander versions of history; responses to contemporary politics and experiences; and connections to place.

Saturday 29 March
• 12pm: Curator’s Tour – QAGOMA Curator, Indigenous Australian Art, Bruce McLean conducts a tour through the exhibition and discusses its three central themes: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander versions of history; responses to contemporary politics and experiences; and connections to place.
• 1-3pm: Free family drop-in Visiting Indigenous Australian artist Gordon Hookey (Waanyi people) hosts a family drop-in inspired by The Kangaroo Crew
• 3pm: Artists’ Talk – Indigenous Australian artists Judy Watson (Waanyi people) and Vernon Ah Kee (Kuku Yalanji/Waanyi/Yidinyji/Guugu Yimithirr people) discuss their works that feature in the exhibition.

Sunday 30 March
• 11am: Artists’ Talk – Indigenous Australian artists Judy Watson (Waanyi people) and Vernon Ah Kee (Kuku Yalanji/Waanyi/Yidinyji/Guugu Yimithirr people) discuss their works that feature in the exhibition.
• 1pm: Artist’s Talk - Artist Gordon Hookey (Waanyi people) discusses his works King hit (for Queen and Country) 2009 and Defy 2010, which feature in the exhibition.
• 3pm: FilmWirriya: Small Boy 2004. Wirriya, which translates from the Warlpiri language as ‘small boy’, is a powerful documentary that presents a day in the life of seven year-old Ricco Japaljarri Martin.

The full programme of events at Auckland Art Gallery is available online at www.aucklandartgallery.com

Adult admission to My Country is $15 on weekends and $10 on weekdays. Children 12 years and under are given free entry. Entry to the Kangaroo Crew Children’s Art Centre exhibition is free. My Country opens Friday 28 March and closes on Sunday 20 July 2014. Auckland Art Gallery is open daily from 10am – 5pm, except for Christmas Day.

My Country: Contemporary Art from Black Australia is a Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Touring Exhibition. The presentation of My Country in Auckland and the visit of exhibiting artists has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its funding and advisory body. The exhibition is sponsored by Qantas.

- ENDS –

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