“Two old people looking for food” – an exhibition of Yolŋu knowledge in MAGNT
Australian Indigenous art is meant to communicate knowledge that comes from the Ancestors. It does sound like a cliche, especially for those who are interested in Indigenous cultures and arts. It might be worth to stop every now and then for a moment, and think about cliches like this, because it can shine a new light on our understanding of the culture of the First Australians. Knowledge has many forms, some secret-sacred, some carries message for a very few who are allowed to learn it, and some has everyday expertise.
The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory displays a collection of artworks that convert important knowledge into visual art that can be understood from all of us: knowledge about food. In fact, not only about food, about survival as well that is being tested for thousands of years in Arnhem Land. Miḏawarr / Harvest exhibit the art of Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda and John Wolseley, two senior Australian artists who were working together to transfer knowledge about bush food of Northeast Arnhem Land into visual artworks: paintings on bark, hollow logs, paper, prints, and sketches in timber. They went to bush together, collected and documented edible plants, and painted them: two different perspectives, one Yolŋu and one Balanda (non-Indigenous person with European origins).
If you are in Darwin between now and the 3rd of March 2019, visit MAGNT and immerse yourself in this unique collaboration. If you are not able to visit, you can order this knowledge online in a form of book, that tells all you need to know about the artworks and the plants.