Sonia Kurarra: Portal of Love and Loss

12 February – 23 April 2022

In association with Perth Festival

This is a landmark exhibition being the first solo show of one of Western Australian’s most successful living First Nations artists, Senior Walmajarri artist, Sonia Kurarra.

Kurrara has been making work prolifically since the mid-1990s, painting the sandy billabong country along stretches of the Martuwarra (Fitzroy River). Her work reflects an intimate relationship with the river and its surrounding environment.

The exhibition will feature newly commissioned work alongside key pieces that demonstrate the major themes of her practice, as well as recent experiments with leather, paper and Perspex.

Just like the floodwaters of the Martuwarra, Portals of Love and Loss traces the cyclic natural rhythms of environmental expansion and contraction. When the flood water is racing, the river is dangerous yet joyous and opulent. When the floodwaters recede, they create smaller repositories that hold a plentiful supply of parlka (barramundi), kurlumajarti (catfish) and bream. These billabongs, the remnants of the flood waters, create important microcosms of seasonal abundance; places of gathering, collecting, sharing and hunting. These transient pools are at the heart of Kurarra’s work.

Operating out of an aged care facility in Fitzroy Crossing, the painting program is supported by Mangkaja Arts. These works are also portals to persons lost and memories of a life before the facility, a lifetime of watching the river, where the rhythms of nature are encoded across every surface.

The exhibition speaks to the significance of the Country surrounding the Fitzroy River at a time when it is increasingly threatened by external interests. It poses a question to the viewer – how would you read Sonia Kurarra’s work if billabongs ceased to exist in the Kimberley?

A Perth Festival exhibition supported by Visual Arts Program Partner Wesfarmers Arts.

Image: Sonia Kurarra, Martuwarra (detail), 2021, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, Courtesy the artist and Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency

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