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Living Country


This exhibition explores the significance of Country to Aboriginal people and provides an opportunity to reflect on the ways Aboriginal artists understand and present their Country through art. It also highlights how the act of art making provides a medium for maintaining an ongoing connection to Country and to the Altyerre in Arrernte or Tjukurpa in Western Desert languages – that is the time when great Creator beings travelled the earth shaping its forms, its stories and ceremonies and the Law; the foundation of Aboriginal life. This Creation time, Law, Country and people are interconnected living entities and underpins much art making as Aboriginal artists’ reveal their deep cultural knowledge and understanding.

The significant relationship Aboriginal people have with Country is one that comes with the responsibility to care for it and maintain its stories; to hold this cultural knowledge and pass it onto future generations. It’s not ownership of Country but a mutual relationship. Doris Stuart Kngwarreye, Arrernte custodian and cultural advisor to Araluen, clearly articulates this:

Apmereke-artweye – belonging to country – I don’t own it, that country owns me…I don’t own anything; the country owns me. And I have to do what country needs to keep strong.”[Bowman, M (Ed), Every hill got a story: We grew up in country, Hardie Grant Books, 2015]

Drawn from the Araluen Collection this exhibition includes not only seminal works from across Central Australia but also much further afield including the East Kimberley in Western Australia, Arnhem Land in the Top End of the Northern Territory, Cape York in far north Queensland and urban Australia. The works date from the 1930s to 2017 and speak of Aboriginal artists’ deep knowledge and rich stories of Country; Country alive with meaning and interconnected with its people.


Albert Namatjira Heavitree Gap c.1949 - 54 Watercolour on paper 34 x 51 cm Ngurratjuta Corporation Collection

Albert Namatjira, Heavitree Gap, c.1949 - 54, Watercolour on paper, 34 x 51 cm, Ngurratjuta Corporation Collection.


27 October 2017 - 01 October 2019


Open daily from 10am-4pm




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