Jintulu: People of the Sun
17 February – 27 April 2024
Presented by the Berndt Museum and Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery in association with Perth Festival
Jintulu: People of the Sun follows the long shadow cast by colonisation and the bleak legacy of genocide, dispossession and racism that remains etched into contemporary Australia. In this powerful exhibition, Jintulu transforms UWA’s Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, interweaving ancient stories with more recent experiences of control, displacement and appropriation.
Taken from the Martu language of the Western Desert, ‘Jintulu’ posits Aboriginal Australians as the ‘People of the Sun’, strengthened by and bathed in its life-giving force.
The exhibition juxtaposes new works by senior Walmajarri artist Murungkurr Terry Murray, acclaimed Martu artist Curtis Taylor and Persian South African artist Natalie Scholtz with iconic works from the University of Western Australia’s collections by Valerie Takao Binder, Irwin Lewis, Sidney Nolan and Alison Alder.
Terry Murray responds to Sidney Nolan’s (1917–1992) The snake (1973) – an almost 13-metre-long mural that appropriates Aboriginal faces, totems and knowledge. Murray’s answer is a bold reclamation of the rainbow serpent – a creation figure that has become amalgamated and frequently adopted as a symbol of ‘Aboriginal Australia’. Made on Bunuba Country, Murray’s work is steeped in tradition, balancing a line that marks his work as both contemporary and traditional.
Natalie Scholtz’s exploration of blackness blurs and drips in a sensual, sometimes grotesque, series of figurative paintings. The Persian South African artist invokes the cultural and political symbols of her homeland as she builds a dialogue with works by Yamatji artist Irwin Lewis (1939–2020).
In the centre of the gallery spaces lie two works that anchor the exhibition to key moments in recent Australian history.
Canberra-based printmaker Alison Alder’s Intervention series (2008) draws on her experience working in the Tennant Creek community and speaks to the drastic and devastating impact of the Howard Government’s 2007 Northern Territory Emergency Response.
Sitting alongside is Noongar artist Valerie Takao Binder's (1947–2019) intimate and deeply personal installation, Dwelling Place/Mia Mia and Yile Boodja/Sandy Country, originally commissioned for Perth Festival 2001. Grounded by the small tin shack or ‘mia mia’ of the title, Takao Binder recreated her childhood home of the 1950s Middle Swan encampment. Told through text, imagery and recordings of Takao Binder's own voice, Dwelling Place is a stark reminder of the people behind the policies.
In Boong, Curtis Taylor’s unflinching gaze forces the viewer to confront the harsh reality of racism today. Presented in a blacked-out gallery, bull bars hang chained from the ceiling, their headlights flickering intermittently to a barrage of racist slurs in this visceral audio-light installation. The work was first presented at Dark Mofo 2023 and will make its WA premiere in Jintulu.
Held in the wake of the failed Voice to Parliament Referendum, Jintulu is a thought-provoking examination of race relations in a turbulent contemporary Australia that ultimately asks of us: ‘What’s changed?’
Jintulu: People of the Sun is presented as part of the Perth Festival Visual Arts Program, supported by Wesfarmers Arts.
Natalie Scholtz is a Persian South African, Australian contemporary artist who works and resides in Perth. Scholtz works primarily with painting and drawing works on canvas, paper, and board. Her practice centres itself upon the human condition, whilst building on historical and contemporary conversations with self, community, and identity. Departing from traditional realistic conventions, Scholtz works are physical acts of communication that evoke emotional responses. Drawing inspiration from the immediate environment, Scholtz’s gesture, expression and mark making are integral to her creative processes. Showing her work on national and global scales, Scholtz has exhibited in Perth, Broome, Karratha, Milan, and London. She has received Artist residencies in Italy, Morocco, and Australia. Following her residency in Morocco, Scholtz presented her first solo exhibition Study of the Equid in 2017 at Alif Raid, Fes Morocco and has gone onto exhibit solo shows Me in Rainbows, 2017, Cult, Wellington, Skin in the Game, 2020, PS Arts Space, Fremantle, and Skin in the Game ii, 2021, Painted Tree Gallery, Northcliffe. Acclaimed for her daring originality, Scholtz won the open painting category at the prestigious Cossack Art Awards in 2022. She’s also been a finalist in the Melville Art Awards, City of Stirling Art Awards, City of Gosnells Art Awards, and the Minnawarra Art Awards.
Curtis Taylor is a contemporary Martu artist whose practice is comprised of painting, sculpture, installation, and filmmaking. Taylor investigates narratives surrounding cultural heritage, identity, and language. Using his film work to speak directly of Martu cultural knowledge, Taylor utilising the archival quality of filmmaking to distribute, store and preserve cultural material. His work has been exhibited widely and significantly. Taylor incorporates a collective approach to his arts practice, collaborating on film works shown at The National 2019: New Australian Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, with collaborator Ishmael Marika and the 2019 Sydney Film Festival alongside filmmaker Nathan Mewett. In 2019 Taylor exhibited his first solo show Untitled (Uura) at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, and site responsive exhibition Inside Out in 2021 at Goolugatup Heathcote. Taylor is an integral figure in a generation of artists from the Pilbara region who continuously assert cultural strength and ongoing connection to country. Taylor has contributed to projects including, Yiwarra Kuju: the Canning Stock Route, 2012-2013, National Museum of Australia and FORM, We don’t need a map: A Martu experience of the Western Desert, 2012-2016, Fremantle Arts Centre, In Cahoots: artists collaborate across Country, 2017-2019, Fremantle Arts Centre, and Tracks we share: Contemporary Art of the Pilbara, 2022, The Art Gallery of Western Australia.
Murungkurr Terry Murray
Walmajarri man Murungkurr Terry Murray lived on Cherrabun Station in a tin shelter when he was a child. His family had no vehicle so they went hunting on foot. Murungkurr has a strong grounding in bush skills, which he learnt from his parents. He paints his jaja [grandfather] and japi’s [grandmother’s] country, Wirnpa and Japingka in the southwestern side of the Great Sandy Desert. This area is known as jila [permanent waterhole] country. His mother and brothers lived around there when they were kids.Murungkurr has strong family connections to a significant group of Mangkaja Arts artists and knows his law and family relationships through his skin group. He explains, ‘Our culture is an everyday learning thing. I grew up with this. You have to have a strong mind and strong spirit and soul and always listen to your elders’.
Alison AlderAlison Alder’s work blurs the line between studio and social/political art practice. She has worked within community groups, research institutions and Indigenous organisations. Her research is focused on empowering communities through the visualisation of common social aims and under-represented histories. Her work has been exhibited in several key Australian exhibitions, including Know My Name, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; See You at the Barricades, Art Gallery of NSW; and Portrait 23: Identity, National Portrait Gallery. Her work is held in major public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia and Australian War Memorial, and private and university collections, including the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art. Alison is currently artist-in-residence at Australian Parliament House, Canberra and is an Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University, School of Art and Design.
Jintulu: People of the Sun Media Release [PDF 621kb]
Image caption: Natalie Scholtz and Curtis Taylor, MUTHA CUNTRY (detail),2023, mixed medium on linen, 218 x 215cm. Courtesy Natalie Scholtz and Curtis Taylor. Photography: Churchill Imaging.