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Indepth Arts News:

"Utopia: Ancient Cultures - New Forms"
2001-10-20 until 2001-11-25
Cairns Regional Gallery
Cairns, QL, AU

This unique exhibition features over 80 artworks and is designed to explore the emergence and transition of contemporary indigenous art practices within the remote central Australian community of Utopia.  The Utopia Community, which is located near Alice Springs, has taken its name from the nearby Utopia Station and was ‘formed’ in the 1970’s when the Alyawarr and Anmatyerre indigenous peoples began moving back to their traditional lands.

At this time, under the tutorship of Jenny Green and Julia Murray, the Utopia residents also began working with batiks; a medium for which the small community was to become renowned.   The batik, which is originally a Javanese medium, was adapted by the Utopia residents and combined with the imagery from their own cultural heritage to produce a new and exciting development in the arena of contemporary indigenous art.  

The silk batiks produced in Utopia feature plant forms and tracks of animals, as well as imagery of ancestral beings, which are related to the Dreamtime stories and hint at narratives from the residents.

From batiks, some of the Utopia residents made the stunning transition to painting on canvas, one of the most famous of which is Emily Kame Kngwarreye.  Emily’s work is recognised as a major innovation in recent contemporary Australian and international art, and her paintings feature in many private and public collections, both nationally and internationally.

Utopia: Ancient Cultures / New Forms incorporates the silk batiks of 48 artists from the Utopia community, as well as featuring 25 paintings from one of communities most famous residents, Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

Utopia: Ancient Cultures / New Forms will be officially opened at Cairns Regional Gallery on Saturday October 20th with A FREE ENTRY DAY.  

In attendance at the opening of this unique exhibition, will be Connie Rovina, the newly appointed Artworkers Alliance representative in Far North Queensland, to discuss the development of indigenous artists and artwork throughout the Far Northern region.

Utopia catalogues, featuring an extensive assortment of Emily Kame Kngwarreye's paintings, are available for sale through the Gallery Shop.

*This exhibition was organised by the Art Gallery of Western Australia in association with The Holmes a Court Collection, Heytesbury.


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