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Works of Tennant Creek men’s artist collective on display

Clifford Thompson is part of the Brio, a men’s artist collective from Tennant Creek, is part of the university’s latest art exhibition Shock and Ore at Charles Darwin University (CDU) Art Gallery.
Clifford Thompson is a member of the Brio, a men’s artist collective from Tennant Creek, which is part of the university’s latest art exhibition Shock and Ore at Charles Darwin University (CDU) Art Gallery.

A men’s artist collective from Tennant Creek is featuring works as a part of Charles Darwin University (CDU) Art Gallery’s latest exhibition, Shock and Ore, which opens this week.

The exhibition features recent artworks by a unique artist collective of fringe dwellers and cultural leaders named The Tennant Creek Brio, which was formed in 2016 out of a successful art therapy outreach program set up by Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation.

The Brio explores the psychological, historical and present influences in their work that shapes the lives and identities of Aboriginal men living in Tennant Creek.

Living in Tennant Creek, 500 kilometres north of Alice Springs, the Brio has eight core members who join together to create their works which features various discarded materials from technical and industrial debris to share their stories.

A commanding set of collaborative works is on display, featuring works by Aboriginal artists Fabian Brown and Rupert Betheras, which speak to themes of conflict and pillage by ancestral and folk heroes, while works of Lindsay Nelson and Joseph Williams detail the scars left by mining and drilling on the land at Tennant Creek.

The exhibition shares the horrors of 1885, in Tennant Creek when European settlers crossed the Queensland border and Aboriginal people were slaughtered and terrorised on their own lands before the Country was pillaged for gold and copper.

As CDU Art Gallery Curator Dr. Joanna Barrkman explains, despite the haunting wounds and wonders of Country presented in their works, the Brio’s resounding works attest a sense of hope and to their resilience.

Remaining true to their origins, the Brio’s works collectively honours connectivity, brotherhood, and empowerment. It explores themes of cultural alienation, colonisation, settlement, and the impact of mining on Country” Dr Barrkman said.

“The Brio bravely declare their stories of living culture from Country, sharing stories of the ancestors of the lands through liberating truth-telling.

“A collaboration of resounding creative works is on display that honour the collective brotherhood of the Tennant Creek Brio.

Artist Jimmy Frank said that the men’s art collective was a different way of healing.

“Art is one way us men in Tennant Creek are telling the history and bad things that have happened. Truth telling is a different way of healing sending a message to all who have suffered from stereotyping and the results of colonisation – there’s healing,” Mr Frank said.

“Our Country and culture have been there all the time, it is our strength, our dream, our stories and our identity. No one can take that away from us.”

Shock and Ore will be opened by Maurice O’Riordan at CDU Art Gallery at 5.30pm on Thursday, August 4. The Brio artists in attendance to perform in celebration of their exhibition.  

The exhibition is on display in two parts at the Charles Darwin University Art Gallery and Coconut Studios in Coconut Grove. Djon Mundine OAM will open the Coconut Studios display at 7pm on the same date.

For further exhibition information please visit: www.cdu.edu.au/artcollection-gallery

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