Featured Tapestries

Dulka Warngiid (Land of All)

Detail of Dulka Warngiid (Land of All), designed by Sally Gabori, Amy Loogatha, Netta Loogatha, †M.M., Dawn Naranatjil, Paula Paul and Ethel Thomas, and woven by Sue Batten, Amy Cornall and Rebecca Moulton.

Dulka Warngiid (Land of All), commissioned for the Melbourne Recital Centre, with funding provided by the Hugh D T Williamson Foundation.

"We each painted our country area which was special for us. Our painting is all of our country. That's what the title means-country, place land- land of all."

This group of 7 Bentinck Island women came together through the arts program at the Mornington Island Arts and Craft Centre. Unlike other indigenous Australian communities the Kaiadilt (Bentinck Island) have no graphic, pre European art tradition, aside from body painting. These artists have been able to build up a collective and personal repertoire of images and symbols- birthplaces, rocks, wild flowers, story places, hunting grounds, reefs, waterholes, body paint and scars. In a broad sense, each of these artists came to painting via more traditional practical artistic pursuits such as making hibiscus bark string, singing, weaving dilly bags and making and repairing fishing nets.

It is highly unlikely that any of these women were influenced in their artistic style by any external artistic influence. Each woman is responding to her own practical environment and concerns. Each of these artists explores the materiality of the paint and surface as well as the properties of the paint as a vehicle for expressing their own connectedness to the land, their ancestors and community narratives.

Sally Gabori was the first of these artists to fully embrace the opportunities afforded by the Mornington Island Arts and Craft Centre in 2006, and in some respects a trail blazer for the other artists in this collaboration, after her success in Indigenous and contemporary art competitions. Sally's work is now in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. She is considered the matriarch of the group in both age and artistic experience.

While the development of each artists own mark making practice has undoubtedly been influenced by each other person in the collective, it is often with a different thematic focus. Some, like Netta Loogatha compose her paintings as landscapes while another (Sally Gabori) may describe a narrative event, like the attempted murder of her brother, King Alfred by two men on a sand bar. Paula Paul's mark making often describes scarification (ritual body decoration), and her marks are purposely raised from the surface of the canvas to emphasize their tactile nature.

These women generously demonstrate a collaborative, developing, uniquely Australian indigenous living art.