The first ever tour of a curated Australian art exhibition through Africa has just opened in Cape Town “ and after Africa, it will progress to India.

Message Stick “ as the show is called “ features a selection of work from the Artbank collection by eleven Indigenous artists living in urban areas throughout Australia. The twenty-one works are personal, provocative and at the forefront of contemporary art practice, according to curator Carrie Kibbler.

Kibbler also hedges her bets a bit on the Blakness, Aboriginality or ‘traditional’ roots of her artists with a curatorial essay that begins:
Until recently, these artists were categorised as urban Indigenous artists, however, today many consider themselves first as contemporary Australian artists, refusing to be differentiated into a different category because of their Indigenous heritage.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd “ who launched Message Stick on its travels in Canberra during NAIDOC week “ was very happy to associate the artists with his heroic Sorry statement in Parliament when he was Prime Minister:
The artworks in this exhibition are strongly influenced by the experiences of the stolen generations “ there is a deep grieving, dislocation and loss.

Artbank adds: We have been at the forefront of collecting contemporary work by Indigenous artists living in urban areas since 1985. In fact, Artbank has perhaps the largest collection of work by Robert Campbell Jnr, who is often considered the father of the urban art movement, including the hard-hitting Please Welfare, Don’t Take my Kids – which is, naturally, on the tour.

Other artists involved include HJ Wedge from Campbell’s generation, Julie Dowling, Ian Abdullah and Darren Siwes, and then the professionally-trained, hot younger talents of Christian Thompson, Reko Rennie, Danie Mellor, Brook Andrew and Adam Hill. Message Stick will be presented in Cape Town “ at the Lovell Gallery in Woodstock through February – then The Seychelles, Port Louis, Harare, Nairobi and Abuja.

The exhibition is due to finish its tour in India as part of the Ozfest program in India in January 2013.