Excitement in Sydney as Roslyn Oxley – owner of the Paddington gallery where Bill Henson was banned and where Piccinini, Moffatt, TV Moore and other hot contemporary artists show – is giving over her white walls to barks from Arnhemland.
This is how Oxley herself describes her Damascus moment:
“During a trip to Yirrikala in September last year, I became interested in off cut bark paintings by Nyapanyapa Yunupingu. Her paintings convey narratives with such vibrancy and enthusiasm “ I hadn’t seen anything like it before. Shortly after my visit, I offered her a show at the gallery and she was given larger barks to paint on. I was thrilled to hear just a few weeks ago that she won the Wandjuk Marika Memorial 3D Prize in Telstra NATSIAA 2008.”
Nyapanyapa’s NATSIAA work was enhanced by the wonderful Yolgnu film that sat her down to re-tell the story of her childhood attack by a water-buffalo that features in the bark. So this is not traditional Yolgnu bark-making – of water-rights and rituals. It is unique, as much as anything because of Nyapanyapa deafness which has allowed her to live in her own world artistically, making rough and spontaneous carvings and prints for more than a decade, says Will Stubbs, Director at the Buku Larrnggay art centre. “She’s a true free spirit”.
And her print-making experience shows in those new barks – she marks the surface as though for an etching; though it verges on traditional rrarrking at times.