Black Sky asserts sovereign visions of blackness

20/01/2023 | 3 mins

Far from neutral backdrops, skies are spaces that hold life and story, incite creation and dreams and witness political action and environmental destruction. 

Black Sky at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery will traverse unlikely spaces of resistance and cultural continuation, from creation stories across mountain ranges, to ambiances of a nightclub, and the black of the Aboriginal flag as a symbol of sovereign solidarities across skies.  

Presented as part of this year’s Perth Festival, Black Sky is a collaboration between the Berndt Museum, the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art and Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery. 

The exhibition features work from artists Julie Dowling, Tracey Moffatt, Tennant Creek Brio, Roy Wiggan, Joseph Williams and Lévi McLean, Gobawarrah-Yinhawangka Traditional Owners and Michael Bonner.

Jessyca Hutchens, a Palyku art historian, and Bonner, a Jingili/Yanyuwa filmmaker, are curators at The University of Western Australia’s Berndt Museum and describe the concept for Black Sky as “an exploration of the dynamism and energy of the sky”. 

Hutchens said the exhibition emerged out of discussions about how the Berndt Museum could be guided by forms of cultural continuation and experimental creative practice. 

The ambitious scale of the show led to curators, Lee Kinsella from the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, and Joseph Williams, an emerging Warumungu cultural leader and artist, to join the project. 

Bonner has worked with Gobawarrah-Yinhawangka Traditional Owners on a new immersive film installation which tells the story of two mountains who speak to one another – a story disrupted and threatened by mining activity. 

“The project has been significantly enabled by many recordings done by the late mother of Roy Tommy and Julie Walker who was a Yinhawangka language activist,” he said.

The exhibition also features new works by the Tennant Creek Brio — an artist collective who produce works that draw on the everyday materiality of their hometown.

“Their spiralling installation for Black Sky will traverse the ambient and fantastical registers of night and sky life, from mining chasms and night clubs, up into the cosmos,” Hutchens said. “Their work continually unravels the categories that limit how Indigenous art is often framed.” 

The opening day of the exhibition will feature a public program, Black Sky Collisions, with three artist panels at the gallery from 3pm to 5pm and an open studio party at the UWA School of Design from 5pm to 7pm.  Further details here

The exhibition is on from February 11 to April 22. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm to 5pm, and admission is free. For more information, visit the LWAG website

There will be a media preview on Thursday, February 9, from 2pm to 4pm, please register here

Media references

Jessyca Hutchens (Curator) 0476 591 495

Clare McFarlane (Visual Design and Communications Officer) 08 6488 7806

Annelies Gartner (UWA Media & PR Manager) 08 6488 3229

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