Chips Mackinolty

<strong>Chips Mackinolty </strong><br/>Born 1954, Morwell Victoria; resident in the Northern Territory since 1981<br/><br/><i> …and there’ll be NO dancing</i> 2007<br/>Inkjet print on German etching paper, AP edn 30<br/>49.5 x 49.5cm [image]<br/>Charles Darwin University Art Collection – CDU1522<br/>Gifted by the artist, 2007<br/>Image © the artist

Darwin-based political printmaker and graphic artist, Chips George John Blair Mackinolty was an early member of the Earthworks Poster Collective (Tin Sheds, Sydney University) between 1974 and 1979. His chosen media were screenprinting and photography.

He tutored in screenprinting at Sydney University Art Workshop for several years. After leaving Sydney in 1980, he managed community arts projects in Townsville, supervising mural painting and banner production, managing performing arts and dance groups, working with set design and construction, and running arts festivals. He arrived in the Northern Territory in 1981, where he was appointed Craft Adviser (later Manager) of Mimi Aboriginal Arts and Crafts in Katherine.

The Aboriginal Land Rights and environmental movements were at the forefront of Territory politics at the time, providing the basis for many of his now iconic posters, including Nyuntu Anangu Maruku Ngurangka Ngaranyi (You are on Aboriginal Land) 1985, commemorating the return of Uluru to its Anangu traditional owners.

For almost three decades, Mackinolty’s activities have also encompassed working for Aboriginal art organisations, land councils, freelance journalism, speech writing and research/publications on Aboriginal land rights, economic development and primary health care, curatorial work and graphic design. In 1991 he established Green Ant Research Arts and Publishing in partnership with Peter Cooke and Darwin-based artist Therese Ritchie.

Between 2006 and 2008, he was Arts and Museums Adviser/Speech writer to Marion Scrymgour MLA, Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts, later Deputy Chief Minister. He is currently the Manager, Research Advocacy Policy for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT).

Mackinolty is also a member of Darwin’s 4th Estate, a literary and performing group comprising Darwin writers and journalists and mercifully, some real musicians and singers. Mackinolty plays the Olivetti Portable typewriter and kazoo for this outfit.

Mackinolty’s own practice as a printmaker and graphic artist has run parallel to his many political, cultural and advisory appointments and related interests, and to a large degree, the subject matter of his art has been nurtured or inspired by them: the people, places and the daily issues that make the Territory the unique, and sometimes troubling, place that it is.

Mackinolty describes his print …and there’ll be no dancing (2007) as having ‘a complicated origin’. It was his own response, as an artist, to the Northern Territory Emergency Response (the Intervention), staged by the Howard Government in June 2007.

The centrally positioned road sign, recording the size of the Northern Territory, acts as a politically sanctioned cartographic marker, announcing a national emergency in Australia’s Northern Territory. Subversive road signs are an established motif in Mackinolty’s repertoire, deployed to great effect in other works such as Signs we should have (1998) and 20 years of road kill (2009). Falling frangipanis and ukuleles are also recurring motifs in fabric printing and other graphic works.

Here, they create a plummeting background curtain that draws us to the work’s intriguing title.

and there’ll be no dancing (2007) takes its cue from a re-working of a quotation attributed (without any hard evidence) to Emma Goldman, a late 19th – early 20th century Lithuanian born American anarchist.

Goldman is believed to have once declared that ‘revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having’, or ‘if there won’t be dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming’.

In this work, the reinvented quotation fires two volleys at the Northern Territory Emergency Response and its aftermath. The first is aimed at the legislation that supported the Intervention and its ‘specific exclusion of Aboriginal customary law as a defence in Western law’.

The second expressed his own view that the extreme measures applied – including the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act – were symptomatic of a political move ‘to garner votes for the 2007 Federal election – no matter what the cost to Aboriginal people in the Territory’.

Although since the 1990s it became inevitable for Mackinolty to ‘relinquish the craft of handmade illustrations and separations to the digital realm’, this work is akin in spirit to some of his earliest Earthworks poster prints of the 1970s. …and there’ll be no dancing (2007) bears the hallmarks of the artist’s traditional training and expertise as a screenprinter.

His signature style and technique – a skilfully combined selection of text, figurative motifs and fields of pure colour with carefully graded tones – punch higher and harder thanks to digital technology’s sharper resolution and saturation.

Mackinolty has exhibited extensively in Australia at major public and regional art galleries and museums, as well as abroad. Along with fellow Northern Territory artists Therese Ritchie and Franck Gohier, he is a major donor to the CDU Art Collection.

His work is represented in the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, the Australian War Memorial, Launceston Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of SA, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Queensland Art Gallery, several State Library Collections, the National Library, as well as Australian university Collections including the University of Adelaide and Charles Darwin University. His work is also held by the Médiathèque de silos, Chaumont (France) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (USA).

Mackinolty’s work, along with Therese Ritchie’s, was the subject of a major retrospective entitled Not Dead Yet,held at the CDU Art Gallery in August-September 2009.

Eileen Lim, CDU Art Collection and Art Gallery Assistant
Anita Angel, Curator, Charles Darwin University Art Collection and Art Gallery

29 November 2011

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