The old men from Amata stole the show. It wasn't just their charisma but their focus – the young people of their community – and their enquiring and imaginative outlook. Frank Young, Hector Burton and Ray Ken spoke to their ideas and work at the Desert Mob symposium on Friday. Willy Kaika and Barney Wangin were present in the auditorium and the men were joined on stage by a collaborator, the much younger installation artist Jonathan Jones, a Wiradjuri man from NSW.
The men are still painting – all of them except Young have work in the Desert Mob exhibition – but they have also turned their attention to teaching their young men to make their traditional weapons, kulata (spears) and spear-throwers. As they worked they saw "how strong and powerful" the weapons would look in their art work, said Young, director of Tjala Arts and chairman of the community, who translated for the other men. They began to imagine a room in a gallery "full of spears, thousands of spears".
KIERAN FINNANE reports from Desert Mob, the symposium and the exhibition.
Pictured, from left: Jonathan Jones, Ray Ken, Hector Burton and Frank Young. In the photograph behind them, Willy Kaika (left) with Burton.
The Teenager and the Shark, installation by Drew Moynihan, partial view. In the background, a partial view of Kelly-Lee Hickey's Detritus Theory. Photo by Leonardo Ortega.
Two ways of drawing you in, as if from different worlds: with one you can imagine yourself on a windswept shore, seeking protection within the flimsy shelter you find there; with the other, there's the seduction of the curtained space you are invited to enter. Once inside, both engage you by the moving image. In one, it is you, the viewer, who moves as you take in the unfolding story, frame by frame. In the other, you remain still while video image and sound sweep you away.
Art is always experiential but very often viewers do not give themselves over to it. At Watch This Space in an exhibition called Shift two works excitingly create their own commanding space in which to be received. No question of a glance and moving on – come inside! KIERAN FINNANE reviews.
Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.
– A. D. Hope
Pamela Lofts, well-loved Alice Springs artist and children's book illustrator, died yesterday. She leaves behind important legacies in both fields.
The desert has been at the heart of her life and art since 1980. She loved its beauty as much as anyone, as evidenced in her work, but more importantly, she saw the desert as "a storied place" and its stories were the matter she worked with. They told not only of what can be found there, but also what cannot; they were full of the haunting presence of lost possibilities – the lost way of life of the original inhabitants, the lost opportunity of another kind of settlement too.
This kind of awareness may have equipped her all too well to address the matter of her own dying in an exhibition held at Watch This Space in Alice Springs in July last year. In a series of drawings of migratory birds who have breathed their last, fully expended at the end of life's long journey, she expressed the sorrow of death at the same time as a profound acceptance of it as a state intimately connected to life, one shared by all living things. The series was remarkable for its meditative beauty (achieved in a sublime display of the artist's drawing skill) as well as for its unflinching courage.
Much more is to be said about Pamela Lofts' contribution to art, to children's literature, to the community – and we will bring a more complete obituary to our readers. Today the Alice Springs News salutes a fine talent and an exemplary spirit who has left this life too soon.