31 August 2019

Yaama Ngunnna Baaka Fundraiser opened last night

Open 11am - 5pm Friday - Sunday till Sunday 8 September

Silent auction - come and leave your bid and phone number on the card beside the work you want.  All money raised goes to support dancers coming to the river from around the country for the Yaama Ngunnna Baaka festival planned for Walgatt, Brewinna, Bourke, Wilcannia and Menindee from Saturday 28 September to Wednesday 3 October 2019. The festival aims to show the precarious state of the river system and our collective need to advocate for its survival.

Details of the festival and how to travel to it are found on www.ngunna.com

Left: curator Ann Finegan ; centre organisers/artists Jenny Brown and Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth 


20 August 2019

Fundraiser for Yaama Ngunnna Baaka Corroboree Festival 2019 opens Friday 30 August 6-8pm

Open 11am-5pm Friday - Sunday, 31 August - 8 September

The fundraiser for Yaama Ngunnna Baaka Corroboree Festival 2019 is curated by Ann Finegan and will show the work of Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth, a Muruwari and Budjiti man, a talented artist and water for the rivers activist, as well as the work and donations of his many supporters, including Suzanne Bartos, Jenny Brown, Sue Callanan, Alison Clouston, Maryanne Coutts, Marghanita da Cruz and Ted Flloyd, 
Ben Denham, Mireille Eid, Juliet Fowler Smith, Beata Geyer, Billy Gruner, Sara Hourez, Janet Kossy, Kerrie Leishman, Margaret Roberts, Ms. Saffaa, Margaret Seymour, Bernadette Smith, Linda Swinfield, Angela Towndrow, Amy Elizabeth Wilson, Alex Wisser, Kayo Yokoyama and others to come.

These artists are donating artwork to support the Yaama Ngunnna Baaka Corroboree Festival 2019, planned for Walgatt, Brewinna, Bourke, Wilcannia and Menindee from Saturday 28 September to Wednesday 3 October 2019. The festival aims to show the precarious state of the river system and our collective need to advocate for its survival. 

Funds raised will be used to support
 dancers coming to the river from around the country for the festival. We hope you can support their participation in Yaama Ngunna Baaka by bidding for an artwork at the opening, or when the exhibition is open from 31 August - 8 September (Fri-Sun 11am-5pm). The fundraiser will be conducted as a silent auction. 

Donations and payment for artworks can be made by bank transfer to:
Bendigo Bank Katoomba
BSB: 633000 
Account no: 166774828

Artists wishing to donate please email yaamangunnabaaka@gmail.com
Dates and times for delivery to Articulate: 1-5pm Tuesday 27 August and 4-7pm Wednesday 28 August
Works can also be donated at the opening. 

Details of the festival and how to travel to it are found on www.ngunna.com

Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth https://mundagutta.com/



Corroboree YAAMA NGUNNA BAAKA is a coming together to heal the Baaka (Darling River).

The roving event includes riverside camping, free community meals and afternoon music workshops. It will be held from Saturday 28 September to Wednesday 3 October 2019. All dancers will perform from dusk each night moving through the townships of Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke and Wilcannia, with a finale at Menindee Lakes.

First Nation organisations and representatives have assisted with planning the event by selecting sites and planning activities, and will welcome all visitors in the ceremonies they will host. These draw from their 60,000 year traditions of caring for the land and the river that plays a role in everyones wellbeing that includes physical, spiritual, emotional, cultural and environmental dimensions.

Situated in beautiful yet precarious riverside sites, performers and audiences will engage with the landscape as well as the social, cultural and political histories that will be brought to life through dance. This festival provides a wonderful focus for First Nation communities to celebrate culture alongside family and friends, whilst providing workshops, rehearsals and presentations of stories and song lines. These will create opportunities for community participation and sharing through collaborative learning and performing.

Just as importantly, corroborree unifies communities and people who share common cultural beliefs regarding the vein of our belonging, being and becoming” to the Barwon-Namoi- Baaka River, whilst highlighting the precarious state of the river system and our collective need to advocate for the river.

Over fifteen dance groups from around Australia will perform in support for the river and all those depending on it.  Those based along the Baaka - the 45 member Bourke group, and other areas of regional NSW and Sydney - will be joined by interstate groups from Darwin, Quilpie (Queensland) and Adelaide, including the Adelaide-based Tal-Kin-Jeri Dance Group led by Ngarrindjeri Elder, Major (Moogy) Sumner (AM), who has reinvigorated the roving festival (ringbalin) along the Murray and Baaka Rivers over the last ten years.

There is a range of music and educational workshops programmed for each afternoon. The Mothers Milk Bank will involve their musicians as part of their Ruby Hunter project working with community through song to carry on Ruby's legacy to support First Nation mothers with diabetes and create a network of breast milk donors for mothers unable to breastfeed because of diabetes or other illness. The work of the Thumbs Up - Good Tucker program, founded by First Nation musician Jimmy Little, will encourage healthy eating from the programs recipe book and will include promotion of the phone app.

The festival aims to assist communities along the lower Baaka to further develop First Nation arts and cultural tourism as an important economic driver in the region. It is dedicated to developing partnerships with government, business and community organisations to build this base to create further mutually beneficial linkages in a holistic approach across health, tourism, education, environment, heritage, sporting and leisure areas. The program also aims to open up opportunities for First Nation performers to further develop their skills and collaborative partnerships in a national event, building a new performance program in regional NSW where the dirt is red, and assisting with the further development of First Nation arts in Australia.

You can read details  at www.ngunna.com

Walgett – Saturday 28 September – Namoi River.
Brewarrina – Sunday 29 September – Barwon River at Doyle Street Park.
Bourke – Monday 30 September – 2CUZ FM at 1 Wangkumarra Drive.
Wilcannia – Tuesday 1 October – Reid St Park. 
Menindee – Wednesday 2 October – Burke & Wills Campsite, Lake Pamamaroo.


Maari Ma Health: Improving Aboriginal health and closing the gap, Dhariwaa Elders Group, Walgett Shire Council: Shire of Walgett, Tribal Warrior, Moogahlin Performing Arts Inc, Bourke Shire Council,  Brewarrina Shire Council, Museums and Galleries NSW, Thumbs Up - Good Tucker program, Central Darling Shire Council, Water for the Rivers and the Aboriginal Culture, Heritage Arts Association, Yama Guroo, Mundagutta.

Yours sincerely

Bruce Shillingsworth Snr, Director
Jenny Brown, Co-ordinator  / Curator

Jenny: 0407677371 - jenny@jennybrownjenny.com
Bruce: 0498646225 - bruce.shillingsworth@det.nsw.edu.au

SUPPORT LETTER from Maari Ma Health

2 August 2019

From a White Ground opened tonight

Open 11am-5pm Fri-Sun 3-18 August

From a White Ground (detail: Left: Nicole Ellis; Right: Barbara Halnan)

Lisa Sharp,
Tabula Rasa for two: time and tempo

If I were to say to you, or you to me, I come from a white ground, what would we see in our minds’ eye? I may see an ancient place where bleached ruins and relics lie partly buried by shifting white sands. Or snow. You might see shimmering spectral forms approaching the present from afar, the scene as indistinct as an overexposed mirage in blinding light. A whiteout. Extremes. Desert heat. Polar cold. Silence. A place, or space, where the elements of ground and light are foremost. For visual artists though, the exhibition title’s reference to unmarked white ground is the classical material beginning. It means a freshly primed canvas, a crisp sheet of blank paper, a lump of unformed clay, with all the expansive potential of unexpressed pictorial expression locked into a surface of blank and impassive whiteness. For a painter a white ground is the first layer, an underlying source of light and luminosity that can be returned to, to let light in, during the making of a painting. For a printmaker white is the negative ground, the space untouched by impression or ink.

A white ground is also a tabula rasa, the Latin term literally meaning a scraped tablet, a used and reused surface, marked and then scraped back, bearing as history all the incomplete residues of past messages. This makes it all the more appropriate to describe the continual development and communication of the abstract visual language common to the practices of Nicole Ellis and Barbara Halnan. In this joint exhibition From a White Ground they present new works, developed separately yet linked by their ongoing dialogue with white ground. Each set out to investigate the role and meaning of white ground by allowing it a certain primacy as their works emerged from and engaged with it. The rasa action, of scraping back, provides a telling analogy for Ellis’ textile collages on canvas, which rely more on innate materiality than intervention to convey meaning. In Ellis’ work the white ground appears in two states; the initial white of canvas, recognisable as every painter’s beginning, but also in the subsequent over painting in white, which is never solid but is often abraded and in doing so stands for the passage of time.  Conceptually, the philosophical notion of tabula rasa as a blank state of mind open to the reception of empirical sensation is perhaps more descriptive of Halnan’s work, based on arithmetic units and patterned sequences of progression, tone and scale. Each artist explores the concept with rigour and also a certain austerity such that, when seen together, the works come From a White Ground in ways that function both as asceticism and aesthetic.

Ellis’ Light Ground series consists of 6 identically sized rectangular canvasses, each one named and developed around a particular muted hue; purple, grey, brown, red, gold and pink. Pursuing her longstanding interest in found colour, found shape and the repurposing of textiles, remnants and offcuts of manufactured decorator fabrics are laid down in rectilinear constructions and combined with areas of paint and other markings. The textile pieces and other elements are placed according to the rectilinearity of a grid, referencing the historical traditions of concrete and constructivist art. The effect is also to eschew the movement and dynamism of diagonals in favour of structure and consolidation, slowing down and pacing the viewing. In Ellis’ work the hand is restrained in favour of materiality, and what a poignant material story is told. These carefully salvaged pieces with their scarred and degraded surfaces convey the passing of time with every overlapping layer of fabric, each partly obscured design, each echoed pattern, each familiar motif. Like turning the pages in a book, they build a sense of time and of loss. As many of the designs are derived from domestic offcuts, the narration deviates into the personal suggesting once familiar living spaces, curtains and upholstery of recent memory. Beyond the personal though is the knowledge that textiles have since ancient times been such rich sources of social history, meaning and making.

In Halnan’s works, the white ground acts as that clean slate, a renewed and primal state with forms, structures and patterns rising up from it, establishing and building the composition up from the ground. There is a sense of orderly and decisive movement yet, also beneath the purpose, something tentative, as if testing the stability of ground for the first time. While the titles of Halnan’s works, Wandering and Meander suggest an equivocal journey; others like Numbers and Faultline evoke precision and systems. The rectilinear grid is referenced again, with works where 9 and then 25 individual panels function as discreet elements of a whole square. Within the square, elements of line, texture and colour riff and repeat the pattern. The equivocation, like a melody, is contained in the hand drawn lines of graphite and in the delicate and sparing use of colour, only pale yellow and silver-grey, like shadow or reflected light. Textures when present are tenuous, in a barely raised edge, a rippling of surface, soft as sawdust swallowed into paint. Geometry is very much in play, with motifs repeated, flipped and reversed. Halnan’s crafting takes these constructions to crisp precision. Notably, in each work there is some element of relief; either within the work itself or between the work and the wall. This modelling, lightly done invites the viewer to perceive actual space within the work, and so creates a lifting off from white ground, a lightness.

If we were to walk on white ground through that bleached and ancient place we first imagined, visibility would be reduced and other senses heightened. Similarly, the priority given to the role of white by Ellis and Halnan in this exhibition enables other formal elements and long held interests in their practices to come to the fore. If white is about beginnings, a new page and a freshly scraped wax tablet then Halnan’s work, based so fluently on rhythm, scale and order rises from it like a piece of music. And if that was a beginning, then Ellis’ work with its pieced layers of loss and erasure is evocative of endings, of the action of time and memory having passed over, leaving only material traces.

Lisa Sharp
July 2019