With the rolling of thunder and a massive downpour the latest exhibition at Gallery Bodalla was officially opened and the fanfare was well deserved. The current exhibition assembles showcases three incredibly talented artists, Jennifer Taylor and Cheryl Davison and beautiful glass works by Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, whose works all intertwine with by way of influence and by spirit. The opening, following on from a heartfelt welcome to country took place between well timed breaks in the continued applause of thunderclaps and torrential rain. Valerie Faber, owner of the Gallery Bodalla introduced the rich history of the artists and their relationship to each other and to the key aboriginal influences that each brings to their work. Cheryl Davison returns with new works to this exhibition and is joined by contemporary urban Aboriginal (Arrente) glass artist Jenni Kemarre Martiniello (right) from Canberra.
Jenni's glass works are not to be missed and if you should happen upon Jenni during your visit you will be further delighted. To give context Jenni graduated from the then Canberra School of Arts, now ANU School of Art and Design, in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts (Visual), majoring in Sculpture. Since university, Jenni has worked in mediums such as print making, photography, textiles, mixed media and glass. As a writer, Jenni has published six anthologies and a collection of poetry, with her writing being translated into Arabic, Spanish and Polish. In 1999 Jenni founded the ACT Indigenous Writers Group and remained the project coordinator until 2013. Jenni also received an ACT Creative Arts Fellow for Literature in 2003. In 2011 Jenni was recognised for her contribution to the community on an honour roll of 100 inspirational local ACT women to mark the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day. In 2013, Jenni received the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award for her piece, Golden Brown Reeds Fish Trap. Her work is in numerous public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Canberra Museum and Art Gallery, Corning Museum of Glass USA, and the British Museum, UK. Jenni is represented by Sabbia Gallery in Sydney and Paul Johnstone Gallery in Darwin.
Jenni’s exceptional works are inspired by and pay tribute to traditional weavers. “My aim is to provide recognition for these ancient cultural practices through the contemporary medium of glass, within the aesthetics of both. I have concentrated on the incredibly beautiful forms of traditional woven eel traps, fish traps, fish-scoops and dillibags, seeking to evoke the interplay of light and form found in those objects, and in so doing, create contemporary glass works which are objects of cultural as well as artistic significance,” Jenni said. Much loved South coast Aboriginal artist Cheryl Davison lives in Tilba at the foot of Gulaga mountain, where she gains a lot of inspiration for her practice.
Working in acrylic and gouache Cheryl’s paintings are distinctly Aboriginal with a strong modern influence. She draws on stories told to her by family about the lands of her ancestors, the Wulbunja and Ngarigo peoples. “Painting for me is about never forgetting the past – to be proud of my heritage and culture. Aboriginal peoples today still grieve the loss of culture and country. It is through my art I am able to keep the South Coast stories alive”. Jennifer Taylor was not in attendance at the opening however was well represented by Annie Franklin who read a prepared introduction to the works in the exhibition. Jennifer Taylor spends time between Alice Springs and Cuttagee near Bermagui. Working in oils, she paints with a deep respect and warmth for country, expressed with excellent tonality. The result is beautiful and strong paintings that capture the changing light and caring connection she feels with the land.
In her introduction she said “These paintings are of places with which I feel closely connected – home-places – in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Yuin country around Bermagui, and Arrernte country, Central Australia. Plein air painting is the basis of my painting practice. This involves seeking permission from traditional owners, to camp and paint in their country. I don't think of these as wild places at all. They are contained by patterns of relatedness, care and responsibility. Every one of them is home to some-one." These three outstanding artists will be at Gallery Bodalla from 14 December through to 14 January. Gallery Bodalla is open Thursday to Sunday 10.30am-4pm, in the heritage post office, 66a Princes Hwy, Bodalla. 0421 238 174 www.gallerybodalla.com.au
Above: Jenni Kemarre Martiniello offering rich insights into the traditional weave melding with the modernity of glass as a medium to as another way of bringing aboriginal arts and artisans into the art world of today - Photo by Sean Burke