Review by Melanie Booth
On August 10 ‘Desert Stars’ debuted at V∆ND∆L Gallery in Redfern. V∆ND∆L exhibited works from incredibly talented Indigenous Australian artists with a key focus on their connection to the land and the ethics behind exhibiting Aboriginal work.
All works originate from art centres in extremely remote desert communities within Australia, for example Martumili, which is located in the very heart of the Western Desert. The exhibition provides a platform for these usually inaccessible works to be viewed by an urban Sydney audience.
Nichola Dare, the guest curator and owner of Aboriginal Contemporary is one of the lucky few that has earned the trust of some members of these communities in order to gain an understanding of their practice and to form strong, supportive relationships.
The works all share a common theme in their connection to ‘country’, a vital concept for all Aboriginal peoples. According to Dare, “some of the works tell stories of country tens of thousands of years old, others are depictions of country, the locations of tracks, hunting grounds and waterholes.”
Specific care has been taken in the orchestration of this exhibition to engage in ethical practices in displaying the work of these artists within an urban setting. This is a crucial, positive step forward within the Australian art scene in its engagement with, and representation of, art created by remotely located Indigenous people who may have difficulty having their work represented to a city audience.
The event was opened by Sophia DeMestre on behalf of Art Pharmacy, the Welcome to Country was given by Donna Ingram, a Wiradjuri woman and active local community leader, while curator Nichola Dare gave some background on the artists and their works.