Looking at Art - June

<strong>Dhalmula #2 Burarrwanga</strong><br/>Born c.1995, Nhulunbuy, resides Yirrkala<br/>Yirritja moiety; Gumatj clan<br/>Homeland: Bawaka<br/><br/><i>Ngarra </i>[Me] 2010, edn 3/4<br/>Digital photography & linocut<br/>Print workshop facilitator/collaborator: Alicia Scobie<br/>30 x 21cm [image], Magnani Pescia paper<br/>Acquired for the CDU Art Collection, 2011 - CDU1994<br/>Image © the artist & courtesy Buku-Larrnggay Mulka, Yirrkala

Dhalmula #2 Burarrwanga

Dhalmula is the daughter of Natjinga Marika and grand-daughter of the respected artist-printmaker and Yolngu stateswoman Gaymala (Nancy) Yunupingu (see Looking at Art, February 2011).

Her print was created during a workshop facilitated by Alicia Scobie, held during the last few months of 2010 at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre.  Scobie delivered tuition in the combined techniques of digital photography, photocopy stencilling and linocut printing to a group of young people including Dhalmula, many of whom had never participated in art classes before.

This workshop was the second phase of a collaboration between the Yambirrpa Youth Development Unit attached to the Yirrkala Community Education Centre (the school), and the Art Centre. With funding support, the aim was to deliver alternative programs for youth not engaged with mainstream schooling through lack of motivation and self-confidence, and at risk from substance abuse, suicide, teenage pregnancy and violence.

A film workshop in 2009 and a collagraph print workshop in early 2010 preceded Scobie’s mixed media print workshop, which saw the number of participants swell to 35 with 38 images produced.

A selection of the second print workshop’s prints (from which this work was acquired for CDU) was exhibited for the first time outside the community in Young Ones: Self-portraits by emerging young artists from Buku-Larrnggay Mulka, Yirrkala, held at Nomad Art, Parap in May this year.
 
As Will Stubbs, art centre manager at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka has observed, prints such as Dhalmula’s have never been produced at Yirrkala before, owing “nothing to the established Yirrkala art styles or authority” nor relying “on any sacred knowledge or previous art production experience”.

As “self-portraits of young people looking good in a context they themselves create”, using digital technology that “they embrace wholeheartedly”, the works have both a “contemporary ‘Facebook’ feel” and a documentary poster quality.  They announce a new phase of local innovators, pioneering a new genre of Yolngu art.

Dhalmula’s print develops a play of existing horizontal stripes – on her singlet top and in the background shingled surface of the building that frames her photographic silhouette. The original photographic portrait shows that the building is cream in colour, but it is enlivened in the final print by painterly green and red inked, printed stripes. A strong vertical band of colour applied on the far right edge of the image stabilises her figure within the frame, projecting her newly created persona to the foreground. Dappled shadows on her bare arms re-introduce the photographic element of light within the opaque blocked out colours of linocut printing.

Dhalmula says that she enjoyed “learning about printmaking” and attained “a good knowledge of photographic linocut”. It is her intention “to learn more about art”. Her favourite artist is her grandmother, Gaymala Yunupingu, who “made lots of prints that were very colourful”.

[Sources: W. Stubbs, Print Certificate documentation for Dhalmula #2 Burarrwanga, Ngarra 2010, Buku-Larrnngay Mulka Print Space, 2011; Artist’s Biography, Buku-Larrnngay Mulka Art Centre, 2011]

 

Anita Angel, Curator CDU Art Collection & Art Gallery
5 June 2011

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