Exciting news from Brisbane where an all-too-rare retrospective of the life’s work of an Aboriginal artist has just opened at the Dell Gallery, Queensland College of Art.

Darby Jampijinpa Ross died in 2005 almost immediately after receiving his telegram from the Queen celebrating his 100th birthday. A rare survivor from the days of first contact, this Warlpiri master was not only a Warlukurlungu artist who put huge amounts of lore and complexity from his important Jampijinpa desert rainmaking sites on to canvas, but he was an educationalist who shared Aboriginal knowledge systems with many white enquirers from the Parks and Wildlife Commission, who made films in the 60s to the ‘Bush Mechanics’ TV series on TV in the 90s.

Here’s a statement from curator Simon Wright of Griffith University:

It’s been a major undertaking, that’s for sure. I’ve spent 18 months sourcing works which have been hidden away across Australian private collections, unseen, for many years. The works on loan from NGA and NGV are terrific, and I’m hopeful the project will successfully argue for Darby’s key role in Australian contemporary art as one of the most significant Warlpiri contributions to date. As a founder of the Warlukurlangu Artists association, and an important innovator and colourist, Darby Ross also provided invaluable Warlpiri perspectives within and beyond the Yuendumu community, in the fields of science, media, religion and education. As an artist he was never swayed by market forces to give up competing responsibilities in order to make art for money, and painted barely 200 works. I have selected around 50 for this, his first solo show!

There will be a publication, which will be ready for the opening of the show at Araluen centre for the Arts, Alice Springs, in late November.

Dates are: Dell Gallery, Grey Street, South Bank, Brisbane until 28th
Sept; Araluen Art Centre in Alice Springs 22 Nov to 25 January 2009.