Desert Lines

Batik from Central Australia

AN NGV TOURING EXHIBITION
BENDIGO ART GALLERY
17 AUG – 17 NOV 2019

The exhibition is mainly based on the NGV exhibition
Across the Desert: Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia.

Desert Lines: Batik from Central Australia is comprised of fifty-six batik lengths drawn from five distinct desert communities: Ernabella, Fregon, Utopia, Yuendumu and Kintore. Each of these communities has a different story to tell in relation to the adoption and adaptation of batik, a wax-resist process developed in Indonesia that Aboriginal women have made their own from 1971 until now.

As a point of difference from Across the Desert, Desert Lines includes a special component of seven major paintings on canvas because, for many Indigenous artists, batik served as a prelude to painting on canvas at Aboriginal owned art centres across the desert. The exhibition enables links to be made between batiks and paintings of Pitjantjatjara, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr, Warlpiri and Pintupi artists. It also reveals differences in iconography, subject matter, palette and approaches to the hot wax and painting mediums across time and space.

Indigenous women from across the desert are interconnected through ceremony, constant travel and closeness to their Country. Their art in any medium is empowered by an understanding of sacred sites and the ancestral world. Batik making has been joyously embraced because it affords women an opportunity to meet, exchange stories, sing and make art. It parallels their painting up big for inma, awely and yawulyu ceremonies, telling sand stories, going hunting and sharing bush foods. As a manifestation of customary forms of mark making, the introduced mediums of batik and painting privilege colour, design and composition, employ iconography specific to individual cultural groups and give artists an opportunity to venture in new directions.

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