Saturday, February 11, 2012

ArtCloth from Utopia
Australian Aboriginal ArtCloth

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Preamble
This blog spot is a great supporter of Aboriginal ArtCloth and prints on paper since it is simply great! The posts below are in this genre.
Stanley and Tapaya – Ernabella Arts
ArtCloth from Tiwi Islands
Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia
ArtCloth from the Women of Ernabella
ArtCloth from Kaltjiti
Australian Aboriginal Silk Paintings
Contemporary Aboriginal Prints on Paper
Batiks from Kintore
Batiks from Warlpiri
Aboriginal Batiks from Northern Queensland
ArtWorks from Remote Aboriginal Communities
Urban Aboriginal ArtCloths


When I read Sir Thomas More's (also known as Saint Thomas More) – Utopia – in the 1960s, I felt he strove for the intersection between fact and fantasy (that later became the hallmark of science fiction writers and more recently of espionage writers such as Frederick Forsyth). More’s Utopia tried to reform the human spirit in an age and place where religiosity was driven towards the mundane (e.g. Henry VIII dumped the Roman Catholic Church in order to divorce Catherine of Aragon, and More in 1535 refusing to take an oath impugning the pope’s authority was then beheaded).

Illustration For The 1516 First Edition Of Utopia.

An area that is 230 kilometers North-East of Alice Springs (Australia) is also called Utopia. The area was named Utopia by early pastoralists in the 1920s since rabbits there were so numerous and tame that they could be caught by hand. Utopia's Indigenous place names — Alhalpere, Rreltye, Thelye, Atarrkete and Ingutanka — are also the particular names of families who are custodians for these aboriginal “counties”. There are approximately 880 to 1000 people who live in some 16 small camps dotted across an area of 2000 square kilometers. The community is structured on extended family groups whose camps are generally centered on their clan lands. There are about 120 working artists in the community.

Geographical position of the Utopia region (Australia).

In 2007 the then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, in response to child sexual abuse and neglect of Northern Territorial Aboriginals, legislated in law - The Northern Territory National Emergency Response (also referred to as "the intervention"). The response has been severely criticized by aboriginal and non-aboriginal groups but has received bipartisan parliamentary support. The current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard continues to support the response, though her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, did make some adjustments to its implementation.

The Intervention.
Note: Utopia has no high-speed internet connectivity. Internet Pornography Statistics
Pornographic websites 4.2 million (12% of total websites)
Pornographic pages 420 million
Daily pornographic search engine requests 68 million (25% of total search engine requests)
Daily pornographic emails 2.5 billion (8% of total emails)
Internet users who view porn 42.7%
Received unwanted exposure to sexual material 34%
Average daily pornographic emails/user 4.5 per Internet user
Monthly Pornographic downloads (Peer-to-peer) 1.5 billion (35% of all downloads).

One of the measures that the current government agencies are actively pursuing is to remove these disperse camps and settlements into a more concentrated “village” society, where resources (such as health, education, social services etc.) can be more easily administrated and delivered. The “Utopian” aboriginals are currently resisting this move, since they consider their immediate connection to their land and its intimate features are more spiritually important than a “white” notion of a village society.

Northern Territory Intervention Word Cloud.
Voices Against The Intervention

No matter what the reason behind Utopia's original naming, it was nevertheless aptly named; the aboriginal artists spread throughout this region are undergoing a reaffirmation of their kindred spirit via their new found art media and in doing so, they are (in keeping with More's vision) arriving at the intersection of their earthly/geographical reality and their non-earthly/indigenous spirituality.

Utopian Artists


Utopian Aboriginal ArtCloth
Utopia was the name of a pastoral lease taken out on the area in 1927. This lease resulted in the traditional areas being depopulated as local aboriginal people moved to homestead encampments to find work. In 1977, the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission acquired the lease on behalf of the Utopia community and in 1979 the land was returned to them under inalienable freehold title.

In 1977 a batik program was started in Utopia as a source of income for the women. The majority of the artists creating these batik designs were women painting Dreamtime stories of bush tucker and women’s ceremonies. In the preparation for the land claim this direct connection between art and land helped to provide the supportive evidence needed for the Utopia community to lodge their successful land-rights claim. Throughout the hearings the women of Utopia displayed their batiks to demonstrate the economic viability of the outstations, and also as an expression of their Dreaming rights and responsibilities to the country.

The National Gallery of Victoria has the largest collection of Aboriginal ArtCloth in Australia. Below are examples of the Batik ArtCloth of the women artists of Utopia.


Violet Petyarr, Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming (1997).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 115 cm (width) x 203 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[1].

Emily Kngwarray, Kam (Pencil Yam Seed) (1988).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 116.9 cm (width) x 191.3 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[1].

Ada Bird Petyarr, Bean Tree Dreaming (1991).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 91.5 cm (width) x 187 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[1].

Abbie Loy, Bush Hen Dreaming (1997).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 115 cm (width) x 210 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[1].

Emily Kam Kngwarray, Anwerlarr (Pencil Yam) (1980).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 84.2 cm (width) x 270.5 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[2].

Lena Pwerl, Arlewatyerr (Goanna) (1980-82).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 91.2 cm (width) x 230.5 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[2].

Gloria Ngal, Road Map, Utopia (1989).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 110 cm (width) x 234 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[2].

Annie Petyarr, Camp Scene (1989).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 110 cm (width) x 230 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[2].

Ada Bird Petyarr, Inernt (Bean Tree) Dreaming (1991).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 91.5 cm (width) x 187 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[2].

Ada Bird Petyarr, Arnkerrth Then Ngangkar (Mountain Devil Lizard And Traditional Healer) (1991).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 93 cm (width) x 181 cm (length).
Courtesy of reference[2].


Reference:
[1] J. Ryan and R. Healy, Raiki Wara, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1998).

[2] J. Ryan et al., Across The Desert – Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia, Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2008).

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