For tens of thousands of years, the Kunwinjku people of western Arnhem Land have painted their stories upon the sandstone escarpments of their ancestral lands. Covered in a vibrant cacophony of images, these rock art galleries present a powerful vision of the continuity of Kunwinjku culture and its close connection to these ancient lands. For the Kunwinjku, these galleries connect them to the original Mimi spirits, who they believe were responsible for the first rock-art paintings.

This tradition is continued in the artwork of senior ˜old-school’ artists such as Bardayal ˜Lofty’ Nadjamerrek and Kalarriya ˜Jimmy’ Namarnyilk. Bardayal ˜Lofty’ Nadjamerrek and Kalarriya ˜Jimmy’ Namarnyilk are living treasures. Both men commenced painting at the dawn of the Indigenous art movement and are senior artists and cultural leaders in their community. Anthropologists, linguists and ecologists regularly seek their knowledge and in recent years, both artists have worked tirelessly as consultants for the Northern Land Council, documenting rock art galleries and other important sites in their traditional lands.

These elderly artists are the last survivors of a small group of pioneering artists who took the ˜old-school’ style of Kunwinjku rock art and transferred it to bark, paper and canvas.

“Influence and Inspiration” celebrates the unique vision that has made them two of the nation’s most important and respected artists. Alongside their work, the exhibition showcases the leading artists of the ˜new school’, who work in the cross-hatching tradition. Whilst ˜old school’ artists like Bardayal and Kalarriya paint in the single-line style, these younger artists employ the sacred cross-hatching of the Mardayin ceremony, adapting it for use in their paintings. Drawing on the same iconographic and narrative elements as their older predecessors, their works shimmer with the delicately crossed tracings that have helped make their work internationally renowned.

Visiting anthropologists such as Baldwin Spencer, Charles Mountford and Ronald and Catherine Berndt were also an influence on the ˜new-school’ artists. In one work included in the exhibition, Gabriel Maralngurra has depicted the arrival of Baldwin Spencer with his wife Mary. Gabriel’s depiction of Spencer, who visited Oenpelli in 1912 to collect bark paintings and artefacts, shows the ways in which contemporary stories are adapted and developed within Indigenous art.

Alongside Gabriel, “Influence and Inspiration” also includes works from some of the leading ˜new-school’ artists, including Gershom Garlngarr, Wilfred Nawirridj, Graham Badari, Jeremiah Garlngarr and Solomon Girrabul.

The Mossenson Galleries, in conjunction with Injalak Arts and Crafts (Gunbalanya NT) is proud to present “Influence and Inspiration” , an exhibition of important works from senior and emerging artists from Gunbalanya (Oenpelli).

The exhibition will be opened at 6pm on Wednesday 16 January 2008 with an artist’s talk by Wilfred Nawirridj, at 41 Derby Street, Collingwood.