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Exhibition highlights significance of ‘country’

19 May 2021

A stunning exhibition of art by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from many Indigenous nations celebrating the concept of ‘country’ will be officially opened at the USC Art Gallery at 3pm on Saturday 22 May.

The exhibition, called Country In Mind, has been curated by Christopher Bassi – an artist of Meriam (Torres Strait), Yupangathi (Cape York) and British descent – and features works that are primarily from the USC Art Collection.

Mr Bassi said the exhibition included art from the Central Desert, the Kimberley, Arnhem Land and the Gulf country and showcased the many ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists make works of and about country.

For First Nations people the term ‘country’ is used as an expression of the relationship between an individual and their ancestral lands and seas,” he said.

“Connection to country is inherent: we are born to it, it is how we identify ourselves, it is our family, our laws, our inheritance, and our legacy.

The artists in this exhibition represent the land as the link between spirituality, culture, language, family, law and identity. In their work, country is the centre of an ontological compass from which knowledge systems evolve but stay inextricably tied to place.

“Representation of country is full of associative information connecting the past, present and future, which always begins with country in mind.”

USC Art Gallery Manager Megan Williams said USC was presenting this exhibition as part of a Connecting Stories program to showcase First Nations art and culture through exhibitions, public art, cultural tours, workshops, artist talks and events at South East Queensland regional art galleries during May and June.

“Connecting Stories is an initiative of Creative Arts Alliance, as part of the Regional Arts Services Network, and is presented in partnership with Blaklash Creative and the SEQN Regional Gallery Network,” she said.

The Country In Mind exhibition will be on show at USC from 17 May until 31 July.

It includes works by Nyuju Stumpy Brown, John Bulunbulun, Lydia Burak, Jukuna Mona Chuguna, Timothy Cook, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Birrmuyingathi Maali Netta Loogatha, Susan Marawarr, Laurie Marburduk, John Mawurndjul, Horace Munmilli, Ivan Namirrki, Esther Giles Nampitjinpa, Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa, Mitjili Napurrula, Phyllis Ningarmara, Naata Nungurrayi, Lena Nyadbi, Gloria Tamerre Petyarre, Ramey Ramsey, Dick Goobalathaldin Roughsey, George Hairbrush Tjungurrayi, Thuganmu Arnold Watt, Terry Ngamandara Wilson, Djirrirra Wunungmurra and Nyapanyapa Yunupingu.

— Terry Walsh

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