Ngurambang shares views of Our Riverina

The Ngurambang: Our Riverina exhibition aims to give viewers new perspectives on the landscape and to demonstrate some of the diversity of talent from creative practitioners working across the region

Griffith Regional Art Gallery worked with curator Jason Richardson to gather a group of artists from across the region for the current display.

Photo by Raymond Wholohan

“Viewers will find familiar scenes and they will also be challenged to recognise others.

”One of the greatest benefits in experiencing art is looking through another’s eyes and this exhibition asked the artists to share their observations about an environment we all share.

The result offers insights into the diversity of creative practice across the Riverina while reflecting on individual interests in the landscape.

“The idea that art can help audiences build connections with the environment has been developing since I worked with Landcare and it’s something I’ve explored through previous exhibitions, our not-for-profit Red Earth Ecology and also recorded interviews with artists and places,” said Mr Richardson.

This diverse cohort produces artworks in differing styles and media to reflect their experiences, so the first step involved establishing common ground.

“We were supported by Western Riverina Arts to hold a workshop in Griffith late last year, where we compared perspectives and inspirations.

“The group comprises a dozen emerging, mid-career and experienced artists with various qualifications and we were able to share knowledge and build a vision for the exhibition.”

For viewers the experience is rich with comparisons and contrasts from a variety of media that includes text, textiles, sound, painting, photography, found and manipulated objects.

“It was always going to be really exciting to see so many of my favourite artists in one place, so the workshop gave everyone a chance to meet and establish some rapport before they began jostling for space.”

One of the first outcomes was that the working title of the exhibition was adjusted to reflect the traditional custodians of the land and waters.

“Pete Ingram’s welded art practice is informed by Wiradjuri culture and it was his suggestion for Ngurambang to be part of the title, and we all agreed on the beauty of Wiradjuri Country and reflected on the impact of their management over many millennia.

“I recently learned the word “Ngura” means campfire and the addition of “bang” in Ngurambang intensifies that meaning to convey the notion of Country,” explained Jason Richardson.

“Another of the artists is Associate Professor Christopher Orchard, who’s investigations of the landscape have been a subject of postgraduate studies; and he shared that the intense campfire evoked in Ngurambang is not superficially a home/house or campfire, but home with all of its relationships.

“It’s that idea of exploring the relationship to their landscape that’s been driving me to seek collaborations with these artists.

“In sharing their Riverina-based practices they are bringing light from their studios that reveals new details in the landscape.”

One of the first artists recruited was Christopher Haworth from Talimba, whose en plein air paintings soak up the dust as he records remnant bushland.

Leeton-based artist Jo Roberts brings a new perspective to local history with her use of a Dadaist technique that cuts and reassembles text.

Dr Greg Pritchard has been a prominent advocate for the arts in the region and he shares a project to record the length of the Murrumbidgee River, which has been developing and was part of an exhibition in Canberra last year.

“Marita Macklin’s embroidery skills are blossoming and there will be much more to see from local names as well.

“I feel it is important to help connect people with the environment for the demonstrated benefits to mental health and to educate about the distinct beauty of our region,” said Jason Richardson.

“We are all part of the Country and our livelihoods depend on recognising our role to preserve it for future generations.”

Ngurambang: Our Riverina is supported by Griffith Regional Art Gallery, Red Earth Ecology, Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government.