Emerging Leaders at the 2014 Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

Three of our Emerging Leaders attended the 2014 Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair in Darwin. Not only were Betty Bundamurra, Jeannette Swan and Mark Nodea hard at work at their respective art centre stalls, Betty had a painting exhibited at the NATSIAA and Mark ran a workshop on painting with ochre. A multi-talented group of individuals, that's for sure!

Mark Nodea:

Mark has been quite the jetsetter of late. Busy with cultural responsibilities and with his own painting practice at Warmun Art Centre in Turkey Creek, he has also been frequently flying down to Melbourne to work with the University of Melbourne on their partnership project with Warmun Art Centre. He says of his involvement with the keeping place – the new community cultural archive at Warmun Art Centre, “I learnt things in Perth, I set up the museum in Warmun from what I learnt on the Desert River Sea Symposium, I did that.”

Invited by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair to present as part of the public program, Mark recently hosted the “Painting with Ochre” demonstration to dozens of curious onlookers, answering questions about the medium and his own arts practice. His paintings continue to attract greater attention. His recent work, Lost Souls, a stunning and poignant work in black, brown and bluish-grey ochres was exhibited at Salon des Refuses in Darwin. The hugely successful event coincides with the NATSIAA and exhibits works submitted but not selected for the Award exhibition.

Jeannette Swan:

Jeannette’s position as Coordinator at Yarliyil Art Centre in Halls Creek keeps her busy. She is attending the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair for the fourth year since re-launching the art centre and continues to tirelessly promote the artists of the Halls Creek region and share their art with the world. Lately, Jeannette has been exploring new opportunities via new markets for the Yarliyil artists by expanding their range of merchandise including a new jewellery and clothing collection. From the attention these new items received at the Fair, it looks as though this clever strategy will pay off.  

Jeannette is currently excited about new developments in Halls Creek: “The builders have just started on the new art centre building, if all goes well we should be in by December.” Currently working out of the Shire Hall, a purpose-built art centre is going to make a world of difference for Jeannette and Yarliyil Art Centre. Of her time at the Emerging Leaders Symposium in Perth last year, Jeannette valued the shared ideas around curatorial and presentation of artworks: “I found the most useful skills was the art handling for exhibition etc. and the importance of telling the stories.” No doubt, Jeannette will put these skills and more into practice after the big move into the new gallery space.

Betty Bundamurra:

This is Betty’s third year representing the artists of Kalumburu by working at the Kira Kiro stall at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. Betty says: “I like to sell for artists in the community and tell visitors about it, they chose me and they are happy about it. That’s why I’ve come to DAAF to make them happy. To put Kalumburu art out there, remembering the art and the songs, to carry it on from the elders so everything will pass on. It’s our duty to carry it on. I like it, like sharing with the tourists, even though I’m shy. They ask me to talk about rock art, I brought Dennis along because he’s authorised to talk about that, give them information.”

There is currently no coordinator in Kalumburu at the Kira Kiro art centre and in the meantime Betty has taken on the responsibility of keeping everything running smoothly. “I like to write down the stories of the old people. We have to choose a manager to see who’s suitable, who we are comfortable with and who can do the job.” She says that one of the things she really enjoyed about the Emerging Leaders Symposium in Perth was networking with staff from other art centres. “I’m happy that people can recognise what I’ve been doing at the art centre, it’s good to travel and meet people and get other ideas from them and what they do at work. Next time I will come out of my shell more.”

Betty is very humble about her work as an artist, even though it’s plain to see that she is extraordinarily talented. Her painting Penta Goodjay – Hero of the Kwini People was selected for this year’s NATSIAA exhibition and marks a shift in her work. The grand scale of the artwork is new for Betty and is testament to her ever-growing skill and ability. “My NATSIAA painting is a spirit being, a monster that terrorized the tribes, it’s a story for the Kwini people. The monster was eventually poisoned as it slept, by yellow flowers wrapped in bark, the other spirits didn’t help it because it was too bossy. Next year I might even do a bigger one.”