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Two Australian Art Exhibitions Highlight Aboriginal History and Culture

By DENG, YANICHONGQING|Jun 12,2022

Chongqing – To celebrate 2022 National NAIDOC Week, the Australian Consulate-General in Chengdu launched two thrilling foreign culture exhibitions. The Australian Indigenous art exhibition “Australian Impression” and the art creation exhibition “Yuendumu Doors” kicked off at the Chongqing Library for one month from June 10 to July 10.

NAIDOC Week is a celebration of the history, culture, and achievements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Peoples.

This exhibition consists of the Australian Aboriginal Photography Exhibition featuring 14 artworks by two Australian indigenous photographers, Michael Jalaru Torres and Bobbi Lockyer. Both artists seek to share Indigenous Australians’ unique and complex experiences through the contemporary medium of photography.

Milyali by Bobbi Lockyer.(Photo/Deng Yan)

Nyul Nyul woman and her kurlukurlu (son) by Bobbi Lockyer.(Photo/Deng Yan)

Drift by Michael Jalaru Torres. (Photo/Deng Yan)

Mother Earth Burn by Michael Jalaru Torres. (Photo/Deng Yan)

The Yuendumu Doors display is one of Australia’s most significant cultural and artistic collections. The doors were painted in 1984 by a group of Warlpiri elders in the remote town of Yuendumu, in central Australia.

The 1980s were a time of great change for Yuendumu. Aboriginal families had to prepare their children for a new life, requiring new skills, including literacy. Concerned that their young people should feel comfortable at school, the elders wrapped the Yuendumu town school in the art of their ancestors.

The Yuendumu doors are brightly colored with a full palette. (Photo/Deng Yan)

Each door tells the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) story of ancestral events that shaped the Warlpiri world. Both physically and symbolically, the children of Yuendumu passed daily from one education system to another. By preserving their own cultural identity and tradition, the Warlpiri youth were better prepared for the future.

Young Boys by Larry Jungarrayi Spencer. (Photo/Deng Yan)

In her opening speech, Adelle Neary, Australian Consul General in Chengdu, said, “Australia’s Indigenous people belong to the oldest, continuing culture on earth. Their ancestors have lived on the island continent of Australia for over 60,000 years. They are the traditional custodians of our country. And, despite all the challenges Indigenous Australians have faced, their rich culture and artistic achievements remain strong and continue to contribute enormously to Australia.”

Adelle Neary also expressed Australia’s strong desire to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with Southwest China.

Adelle Neary, Australian Consul General in Chengdu, made an opening speech. (Photo/Deng Yan)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Australia diplomatic ties. The two countries maintain stable development in areas such as economy, trade, and people-to-people exchange. Chongqing has carried out productive cooperation with Brisbane, Sydney, and other cities in Australia.

Zhou Yi, Deputy Director of the Foreign Affairs Office of Chongqing Municipal People’s Government, said, “We will dedicate to the constant promotion of mutual learning through people-to-people exchanges, strengthening complementary and pragmatic cooperation, and continue to serve as a bridge for more collaboration in culture, education, economy and trade, science and technology between Australia and Chongqing.”

In addition, a short film, Ochre and Ink, played at the event, tells the extraordinary story of artist Zhou Xiaoping and his inspiring 23-year collaboration with Aboriginal artists in outback Australia. In this Sino-Australian cross-cultural exchange film, Zhou Xiaoping used art as a medium to show the natural landscape of Australia and the spiritual bond between the aboriginal people and their land.

Ochre and Ink. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

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