'My Country' by Mavis Ngallametta

Creative People

Today our Indigenous Art columnists, Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti of  profile Mavis Ngallametta.

An accomplished weaver-turned-painter, Mavis is from Aurukun, on the north-west coast of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. This remote community serves as the source of both her subject matter, and her ochre painting materials.

The artist and environmental activist is currently exhibiting her large-scale works, which depict the waterways and wildflowers of her traditional country, Kendall River, as well as her Aurukun home, in the solo exhibition, ‘‘, at  in Sydney.

10th October, 2017

Artist Mavis Ngallametta in front of ‘Kendall River’, 2012. Photo – .

Mavis Ngallametta, ‘My Country – Kendall River , 2017, natural ochres and charcoal with acrylic binder on linen, 201 x 272cm. Photo – courtesy of the artist and .

Mavis Ngallametta, ‘Low Down Swamp’ 2016, natural ochres and charcoal with acrylic binder on linen, 270 x 199cm, and ‘Pundum’ 2016, natural ochres and charcoal with acrylic binder on linen, 270 x 199cm. Photos – courtesy of the artist and .

Mavis collecting white ochre, Ikalath. Photo – .

Mavis Ngallametta, ‘End Swamp’ 2017, natural ochres and charcoal with acrylic binder on linen, 201 x 272cm. Photo – courtesy of the artist and .

Mavis Ngallametta, ‘Swampy Area at Yalgamungken’ 2017, natural ochres and charcoal with acrylic binder on linen, 272 x 201cm, and ‘Small Horse Creek’ 2017, natural ochres and charcoal with acrylic binder on linen, 272 x 201cm. Image courtesy the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary. Photos – courtesy of the artist and .

Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti
Tuesday 10th October 2017

Mavis Ngallametta’s large-scale paintings, a selection of which are currently being exhibited at in Sydney, are both derived from, and imbued with, the material richness of her natural environment. Incorporating white ochres from the cliffs of Ikalath on the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula, mixing fecund greens from a combination of yellow ochre pigment and charcoal – Mavis is both a master colourist and an alchemist of sorts. Her bountiful and interwoven depictions of the waterways, geological formations and flora around Aurukun show her to be a painter of great vision and complexity.

Aurukun is a community on the north-west coast of the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland. Over 800 kilometres west of Cairns and almost 180 kilometres south of Weipa, it is what many of us would call a remote, isolated place. It is also Mavis’ home, and the source of both her subject matter and painting materials.

Like a number of prominent female Indigenous artists, Mavis began her career as a weaver. Taught by senior Wik and Kugu women on country and at the mission school, she became proficient in, and renowned for, creating mats, baskets and dilly bags from cabbage palm and pandanus. In 2009 she became involved with , a movement spearheaded by Indigenous communities to bring attention to the plastic fishing nets killing marine life and making landfall on beaches around Northern Australia. The project eloquently marries artistic and environmental concerns in the creation of beautiful sculptures woven from discarded nets. In 2008 Mavis began experimenting with painting, participating in a workshop at the Wik and Kugu Art Centre run by facilitator Gina Allain. Relatively quickly, she began working in two dimensions with natural ochres and charcoals.

Whilst not prolific – she has completed less than 40 large scale paintings in the last seven years – Mavis’ output has been impressively consistent in terms of quality (almost a quarter of those works have been acquired by public institutions such as Queensland Art Gallery’s Gallery of Modern Art, National Gallery of Australia, and the Art Gallery of NSW) and artistic vision. Despite her success, Mavis’ achievements have been quietly won – her luscious, multi-layered works are still unknown to many.

Mavis depicts her traditional country of Kendall River, but also draws inspiration from other places around Aurukun where she lives. ‘At the moment I love painting the swamps and swampy areas’, Mavis says, in conversation with Gina Allain. ‘If you come to Aurukun you will see lots of swamps with a lot of water lilies, lots of birds and lots of different coloured swamp flowers.’ ‘Swampy Area at Yalgamungken’, from Mavis’ current solo show, depicts the flowers and birds that appear at the end of the dry season at Yalgamungken, where she collects her yellow ochre.

Works begin with a blue acrylic base colour, the blue of the Arafura Sea surrounding Cape York. From there, the painting is made from the landscape. Mavis says: ‘I can make many colours from the yellow, red, black and white [ochres]… I mix the yellow ochre with the black…from the charcoal and I get greens. I mix the red and yellow and I get oranges. If I mix the white clay with the red ochre, I get pink. I cook the yellow ochre to get the red. Depending on the length of time you cook the ochre, and the colour of the yellow that I have collected, it makes different shades of red.’

Her environmental concerns, so powerfully expressed in her ghost-net weavings, are present in Mavis’ paintings too: the fishing nets and oil drums that wash up on the beach at Aurukun are sometimes incorporated into her densely painted compositions. The presence of this unwanted debris is jarring alongside wetlands in full flourish depicted in the paintings, and reminds us that for artists like Mavis to continue their relationship with these bountiful ecosystems, they need protection.

‘‘ by Mavis Ngallametta
September 21st to October 15th
 
15 Hampden Street
Paddington
Sydney

Similar Stories

Creative People

Tjigila Nada Rawlins

Profiling the highly sought-after and idiosyncratic painter from northern Western Australia.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti of Willie Weston

Creative People

Margaret Rarru · 'Black is Beautiful'

Profiling the Madonna-loving artist creating incredible, contemporary manifestations of an enduring weaving practice.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti

Creative People

Bugai Whyoulter

Profiling the Great Sandy Desert-based artist, ahead of current and upcoming exhibitions.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti

This Week

Architecture

Subtropical Modern In Sanctuary Cove

An award-winning home on the water's edge in Sanctuary Cove, south of Brisbane, by Justin Humphrey Architect.
Miriam McGarry
45:53

Podcast

TDF Talks With Blogger + Entrepreneur Courtney Adamo

The much-loved mum-of-five shares her amazing journey, from launching Babyccino Kids more than a decade ago, to her new e-course, 'The Loop'...

Homes

A Warrandyte Delight, With Sage And Clare’s Phoebe Bell

The colourful mid-century modern home of Sage and Clare's Phoebe Bell and family.

Travel

Where To Explore, Eat + Unwind In Vibrant Marrakesh

From tranquil riads to bustling cafes, Tigmi Trading's guide to the ochre city at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
Danielle McEwan
  4 hours ago

Community

Many Hands Come Together To Support Women From Refugee Backgrounds

Melbourne social enterprise Merchant Road launches a new initiative to improve employment opportunities for women from refugee backgrounds -...
Elle Murrell
  18 hours ago

Architecture

The Spanish Mission House For An Old Amigo!

Kennon Architects create a fresh renovation a 1926 Spanish Mission home for a close friend in Malvern.
Miriam McGarry

Art

Bright Bursts Of Winter Botanicals In 'Wonderland'

Artist Antoinette Ferwerda takes us through her latest exhibition, celebrating the daily joys of nature.

Food

Shannon Bennett's Zucchini Tartines With Warm Mustard Sauce

A seriously delicious and super easy vegetarian recipe that Shannon cooks for friends at home.
Shannon Bennett

Tiny Homes

Meet The Australians Embracing Vanlife

Three couples take us through their mobile-home renos, the highs and lows of life on the road!
Elle Murrell

Creative People

The Rise Of Tide Design

The Melbourne furniture makers expand their range, handcrafted in their Huntingdale workshop.
Lucy Feagins
  20 hours ago

Dream Job

Preserving Plants Forever At Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Not your average photographer, Angharad Johnson gives us an insight into her vital day job as the National Herbarium of Victoria's Digitisin...
Elle Murrell

Interiors

This Renovated Queenslander Is A Workplace That Feels Like Home

When going to work feels like coming home! Interior designer Alexandra MacMillan teams up with Cavill Architects on an inspired new workspac...

News

St Agni Put Their Best Foot Forward In Brisbane

An earthy new retail store that connects with the Byron Bay-based brand’s quality, relaxed ethos.

News

Explore The Future Of Design Trends At Decor + Design

Australia’s premier design trade show is back for its biggest year yet!
Sponsored

Architecture

A New Home Infused With Heritage Character

The Brighton Home by Caisson Architects is a spacious family home that merges modernity with historical context.

Similar Stories

Creative People

Tjigila Nada Rawlins

Profiling the highly sought-after and idiosyncratic painter from northern Western Australia.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti of Willie Weston

Creative People

Margaret Rarru · 'Black is Beautiful'

Profiling the Madonna-loving artist creating incredible woven bags and garments.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti

Creative People

Bugai Whyoulter

Profiling the Great Sandy Desert-based artist, ahead of current and upcoming exhibitions.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti
ry-diplomer.com

http://medicaments-24.com

https://avtokum.com