A decade of artwork by leading contemporary Indigenous artist Danie Mellor is the focus of a major survey exhibition opening at TarraWarra Museum of Art on May 10, on tour from The University of Queensland Art Museum.

The exhibition brings together more than 50 of the artist’s key works drawn from public collections, including the UQ Art Museum, Australian Museum, National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Bathurst Regional Gallery and private collections.

It is the first large scale exhibition to consider in depth how Mellor has contributed to contemporary Australian art in a range of styles and media, and our understanding of Australia’s colonial past.

Mellor’s choice of a wide range of media, which includes intricate combinations of pastel, pencil, glitter, Swarovski crystal and watercolour on paper and sculptural installations that combine mosaic, taxidermy animals, gold leaf, neon and found objects, is integral to a conceptual understanding of his work.

Exhibition Curator Maudie Palmer AO says the survey invites engagement with Australia’s shared and contested histories through core themes in Mellor’s work. “His visual narrative relies on manipulating British imagery from the 18th and 19th centuries, specifically iconography borrowed from blue and white Spode china, which he layers with his own record of the cultural differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia,” Ms Palmer says.

Mellor was born in Mackay in 1971, has lived variously in Australia, the United Kingdom and South Africa and now resides in the Southern Highlands of NSW. He maintains strong links to his mother’s Country in the Atherton Tablelands of Far North Queensland as a descendent of her Scottish, Irish and Indigenous heritage of Mamu and Ngagen rainforest people with connections to the Jirrbal.

The exhibition is timely, following Mellor’s inclusion in several significant exhibitions in recent years, including Story place: Indigenous art of Cape York and the rainforest at the Queensland Art Gallery (2003), both National Indigenous Art Triennials, Culture warriors and undisclosed, at the National Gallery of Australia (2007 and 2012), and Sakahan: 1st international quinquennial of new Indigenous art, at the National Gallery of Canada (2013).

TarraWarra Museum of Art Director, Victoria Lynn, says, The work of Danie Mellor introduces us to many intriguing worlds drawn from indigenous history, 19th century imagery and the landscape of spirits. The artist invites us on a journey through these intricate, delicate and magical scenes. This exhibition provides the first opportunity for our audiences in Victoria to consider the work of Danie Mellor in depth.

A new publication supported by a grant from the Gordon Darling Foundation and featuring full-colour reproductions of all the works has been produced for the exhibition (RRP $33). A free Learning Resource will also accompany the exhibition, and will be available to download from the UQ Art Museum website.

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