Miaritch: Collections of Noongar Art

I really enjoyed attending the Miaritch: Collections of Noongar Art exhibition opening in Albany last night. It was clear to me that the opening was very well received by the many who attended. The exhibition continues until 22 July 2023.

Here is what is written in the exhibition information:

We respectfully acknowledge that this exhibition is hosted on Menang Noongar country and that Menang people remain the spiritual and cultural custodians of their land, and continue to practise their values, languages, beliefs, and knowledge. We acknowledge the strength, wisdom and courage of Elders past, present and emerging and celebrate their unique role in the life of this region.

Introduction

This exhibition showcases artworks created by eleven prominent Noongar artists and the dedicated work of two local collectors who have promoted and championed Noongar art over decades.

Tony Davis and Trevor Garland have generously opened their collections to share their passion with the art-loving public.

The title – Miaritch – is the Menang name for Oyster Harbour and symbolises the mingling of many different waters in one place.

The artworks shown here originated in different places in the South West and Great Southern. The artists are all connected by a shared art lineage which traces back to the child artists of the Carrolup Native Settlement and to Bella Kelly, acclaimed as the matriarch of Noongar art.

Tony Davis, who has had a life-long interest in Aboriginal artefacts and art, bought many of his artworks directly from the artists and from local outlets. Trevor Garland has acquired much of his collection from auction houses and online sources, including from overseas.

The two private art collections hold a significant cultural legacy for our benefit now and for the future.

‘I didn’t know very much about Noongar paintings until I came across a Bella Kelly which I really enjoyed and it was “Sunrise over the Stirlings”. I ended up buying three of her paintings and that started me on the road to collecting.

The Carrolup story really got me excited and really moved my collecting up a notch. The knowledge gained made it more interesting for me to collect. They are unique to Western Australia. They’re beautiful works of art and are a snapshot in time. It is our Aboriginal history… I see my role in collecting these paintings is caring, protecting… I believe it is a cultural legacy.” Trevor Garland, Collector

‘I was walking along the footpath and I saw an Aboriginal lady in the shade and these lovely paintings, five or six colorful paintings of the Stirling Range, and as I went past I said “These are beautiful paintings”… I said “I would like that painting there if it’s for sale?” That was in 1967. I amassed a few paintings of Bella’s and slowly I got a little collection together.

I’ve been very very fortunate in life to have the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time, to be able to afford this collection, which stretches from 1967 up to the present day… I hope that in future people can see the benefit of collecting art.’ Tony Davis, Collector

The artworks are from Bella Kelly, Revel Cooper, Reynold Hart, Geoffrey Narkle, Lance Chadd Tjyllyungoo, Graham Swag Taylor, Shane Pickett Meeyakba, Athol Farmer Moordipa, Rhona Wallam, Greg Quartermaine and Gig Mansell.

Co-curators: Annette Davis, Kylie Bowden, Malcolm Traill.

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