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Home / About us / News & Media / Bitumen & Dirt – Wayne Eager: 30 Years in the Territory

Bitumen & Dirt – Wayne Eager: 30 Years in the Territory

A Charles Darwin University Art Gallery touring exhibition

Araluen Arts Centre
27 March – 14 June

Opening Friday 26 March, 6pm

To be opened by Rupert Myer AO, philanthropist and former Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts from 2012 - 2018

Artist floortalk with Wayne Eager Saturday 27 March, 10:30am

Developed by and initially presented at Charles Darwin University Art Gallery from October 2020- February 2021, Bitumen & Dirt - Wayne Eager: 30 Years in the Territory is a touring exhibition celebrating 30 years of creative curiosity, dedication and engagement with place by Alice Springs-based artist Wayne ‘Iggy’ Eager.

The Araluen Arts Centre is proud to host and present this significant survey exhibition of Eager’s artistic practice to Alice Springs, the town and community he has long called home and been an integral part of.

Bitumen & Dirt – Wayne Eager: 30 Years in the Territory features 78 paintings and prints drawn from public and private collections around Australia, including 14 works from the CDU Art Collection. The exhibition charts the life and work of Eager since arriving in the Northern Territory from Melbourne in 1990 and confirms that while Eager’s practice has been one with an intensely Northern Territory focus, the recognition of that work extends across the nation.

Eager has lived in Central Australia since 1992, living and working at Haasts Bluff for five years and later as a field officer for Papunya Tula Artists from 1996-2005. Since then, he has been a professional painting mentor and workshop facilitator for artists working through Ananguku Arts in the APY Land communities and also with Western Desert communities. 

Across that time Eager has explored and developed his own responses to life in the NT. This exhibition tracks across his shifting visual language, from the early, figurative observations of the landscape which became a large opus of works, through to an expression of country in distinctly abstract ways, a reengaging with abstraction for which he had been renowned in Melbourne as a founding member of the ROAR Studios group in the 1980s.

Dr Joanna Barrkman, curator, CDU Art Gallery, said “Eager creates unique and densely layered paintings of shapes, lines and dashes that evoke the lacework of dirt tracks and bitumen roads linking remote Aboriginal communities and outstations with the steadfast “line” of the Stuart Highway - uniting the Territory from north to south”

Kellie Joswig, the curator of Bitumen & Dirt – Wayne Eager: 30 Years in the Territory said “Together, the works can be read as a ‘map’ marking the far reaches of the Territory and its various topographies and juxtapositions of green, wet, humid tropics and red, dry, arid desert.”

Eager was a founding member of ROAR Studios in Melbourne in 1982 and has exhibited regularly since that time throughout Australia. Represented by commercial galleries, Bitumen & Dirt – Wayne Eager: 30 Years in the Territory is the first survey exhibition of his work to be held in public art gallery settings, acknowledging his artistic significance and the legacy of his three decades of practice in the NT.

The exhibition is accompanied by the publication, Wayne Eager: a survey, 1982-2020, featuring contributions by Kirsty Grant, Professor Alexander (Sasha) Grishin AM, Kellie Joswig and John Kean.

Bitumen & Dirt – Wayne Eager: 30 Years in the Territory is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts and Artback NT.

Images (top to bottom):
Wayne Eager, Naramu Billabong, 1991, gouache on paper, 76 x 56 cm, Private collection of Robert Eager.
Wayne Eager, West MacDonnell Ranges, 1994, oil on 3 ply board, 30 x 214cm, Charles Darwin University Art Collection, CDU3359.
Wayne Eager, Red Town, 2018, Oil on linen, 138 x 122.5 cm, on loan from the artist.