Tempe Downs, West of Alice Springs, NT, from the series Mparra Karrti - Us mob belong to the Country
Selma Nunay Coulthard, Noreen Hudson, Clara Inkamala, Reinhold Inkamala, Vanessa Inkamala and Gloria Pannka paint their Country. They paint landscapes of Ntaria (Hermannsburg) and Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and extend the artistic legacy of their ancestor Albert Namatjira. It is this legacy that has prompted them to introduce photographic techniques into their painting practices. The authorship of photographs originally credited to the artist Rex Battarbee, who painted with Namatjira in Ntaria, is being reconsidered. If Battarbee appears in some photographs, who took them? Can Namatjira be re-historicised as a photographer? The artists at the Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre embrace this speculation.
The camera-less lumen photograms presented here are depictions of the landscape made with the landscape. To produce these lumen prints, plant matter was arranged on photosensitive paper before it was exposed to sunlight and fixed in a makeshift darkroom. These prints turn their subjects into spectral silhouettes, trace markings of the land itself.
The plants used by the artists came from their Country – the same Country they paint alongside and atop the prints. They include bush medicine and foods that are slowly disappearing from the landscape, threatened by industry and introduced species. The land that Namatjira painted, and the land that these artists knew as children, has changed dramatically. Knowing this, we can see the spectral shapes formed through contact with the land – already ghostly, almost gone – as painfully prophetic.
lumin print, watercolour
50.0 x 60.0 cm
Purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors group 2019
Not on display
© Selma Coulthard
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
The National 2019: New Australian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 29 Mar 2019–21 Jul 2019