Ngaldjorlhbo – Mother of Everything

Ended — at IDAIA - International Development for Indigenous Arts

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Ngaldjorlhbo  |  Mother of Everything  |  Mère de Toute Création

Showcasing the art of the women artists from the Aboriginal community of Maningrida, in Western Arnhem Land (Australia), this is the first exhibition focusing on their multi-disciplinary artistic creative process in Paris, France.

Co-curated with leading senior artists and sisters Deborah Wurrkidj and Jennifer Wurrkidj, and Susan Marawarr, their aunt, and in collaboration with Maningrida Arts & Culture and Bábbarra Women’s Art Centre, the display articulates around an unprecedented concept and revolves around the central spiritual figure of Ngaldjorlhbo, specially unveiled by the artists for the project.

Ngaldjorlhbo is a powerful woman who created the spiritual and tangible world for the Aboriginal people in Western Arnhem Land. In creating the land and environment, she endowed Kuninjku people with the ability to create art, and with their culture, to share with future generations. Ngaldjorlhbo gives women the cultural knowledge and deep links to country, identity and ancestor spirits, which informs the diverse art practice presented in this exhibition.

Ngaldjorlhbo celebrates the artists’ adaptability and cross-disciplinary approach in creating, visualising, materializing and passing on their culture. The exhibition gathers a selection of 40 works comprising a range of media from bark paintings to screen and lino prints on textiles, etchings, hollow funerals logs, and mimih carvings. These startling artworks testify to the women’s intimate, both physical and spiritual link to their country, while challenging the viewers and inviting them on a journey through the Western Arnhem Land and its sacred his/stories.

The display also examines how traditional and contemporary, more innovative and audacious designs, forms and media cohabitate, influence one another and eventually open up exciting possibilities for the artists to share ancient stories, reflect on the sense of identity and raise awareness of the importance of culture and country preservation. Ngaldjorlhbo provides an opportunity for the European audience to discover and experience the incredible richness of the Maningrida women’s artistic practice.

Significantly, Maningrida Arts & Culture and Bábbarra Women’s Art Centre have been playing a pivotal role in supporting social actions led by and for the women. The latter champion the ideas of financial autonomy for themselves and members of the community or better healthcare, for instance, and they are very involved in the defence of their homeland and the protection of the environment.

Echoing the 2018 National NAIDOC Week theme Because of her, we can! which celebrates Aboriginal and Strait Islander women, this special exhibition project only includes artworks by women artists. This curatorial choice aims at tackling the issue of lesser exposure of Indigenous Australian female artists in European institutions.
The show is also timed to coincide with the Festival of Indigenous Australian Cinema in Paris, whose general theme this year is “connection to country”, addressing from several angles the interdependence between the Aboriginal populations and the land.

Organised by IDAIA, Maningrida Arts & Culture and Bábbarra Women’s Art Centre, in partnership with New Angles and A.C.M., the exhibition is accompanied by public and educational programs, educational resources and a dedicated bilingual exhibition catalogue.

Participating Artists