Historic Cape York art is on show alongside contemporary indigenous works.
To see the first historic artworks collected from Aurukun on western Cape York alongside his own sculptures is an extraordinary occasion for artist Craig Koomeeta.
“It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck,” Koomeeta says. “This old stuff, we haven’t seen it for so long.”
Some of that “old stuff”, which is on show in a big survey exhibition at the University of Queensland Art Museum, comes not from art gallery collections or from the Wik and Kugu Art Centre in Aurukun but from UQ’s Anthropology Museum.
Linking those carvings, which were collected by missionaries between 1949 and 1958, has been a big goal of this show, called Before Time Today: Reinventing Tradition in Aurukun Aboriginal Art.
As curator and art historian Sally Butler says, “We’ve tried to create a relationship between past and present.
“Even the artists haven’t seen a lot of these old works for a long time, if ever, so just putting them back into dialogue with the present is significant.”
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Gallery: University of Queensland Art Museum ,