The incredible collection will feature pieces from world famous indigenous Australian artists, Emily Kngwarreye and Minnie Pwerle. Kngwarreye’s painting Earth’s Creation sold for over $2 million in 2017, setting a record for a painting by an indigenous Australian artist.
The collection celebrates art from the remote Aboriginal outstation of Utopia, 270 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs in Australia’s semi-arid, red centre. It is home to the Anmatyerre and Alyawarre people, and in 1981, was the first outstation in Australia to achieve Land Rights, when the original indigenous owners’ land was finally returned to them. They first received acrylic paints and canvas in 1988 and it was predominantly women who began painting their Dreamings (creation stories about how the land and natural world came to be) and awelye (women’s ceremonial body painting designs). These became incredibly popular and synonymous with Australian Aboriginal artwork around the world.
Kngwarreye, whose pieces, Yam Flower Dreaming and Yam Dreaming, will be displayed, began painting in acrylics in her 80s and she became the nation’s most celebrated Aboriginal artist. Yet the people of Utopia continue to live traditional lives of hunting and gathering, handing down their oral culture and ancient, experiential knowledge to new generations.
The artwork is from the collection of Saul Hay Gallery painter, sculptor and photographer, Dr Victoria King who volunteered at Utopia between 1998 and 2004.
She says: “The remote Aboriginal outstation of Utopia is a place of sublime, harsh beauty and infinite complexities. Over the five years I volunteered there, I transcribed the women’s Dreaming stories and watched as they created remarkable hybrid works of art that reflected their ancient culture. Their profound experiential wisdom and ecological knowledge astounded me and living with them was a privilege that forever changed how I see the world.”
King will be giving a talk at the gallery as part of the exhibition on Thursday 16th February at 7.30pm. The show also coincides with the reopening of the Manchester Museum, and particularly resonates with their new Living Cultures collection.
Ian Hay, Director of The Saul Hay Gallery says: “This exhibition represents a significant and important collection of Australian Aboriginal paintings collected by Dr Victoria King, an esteemed painter herself, who developed a close and lasting bond with many of the artists represented. We are pleased to be able to bring to Manchester works of such quality from some of the most renowned Aboriginal artists and to help to tell their story.”
The exhibition is free and runs from 11th to 26th February 2023. All works will be for sale.
The Saul Hay Gallery hosts a vibrant collection of artists and sculptors from the Manchester art scene and beyond. For more information or to shop online, visit www.saulhayfineart.co.uk.