Diverse art forms by nine artists from a small and discrete Aboriginal community on the west coast of Cape York peninsula come together in this new exhibition presented by Brunswick Street Gallery and Wik & Kugu Art Centre; ‘Aak Puul: Art From The Wik & Kugu Region’.
Among the vibrant ochre and acrylic paintings by Devena Wikmunea, Leigh Namponan and Janet Koongotema, are a collection of iconic camp dog sculptures by Leo Namponan, Bruce Bell, Keith Wikmunea, Leigh Namponan, Lex Namponan, Roderick Yunkaporta and Bevan Namponan.
Through the representation of the unique visual arts practice belonging to the five clans who live on Aurukun, this exhibition aspires to demonstrate to Melbourne audiences the unity and strength of Wik & Kugu culture.
Keith Wikmunea, senior Wik-Alkan artist explains, ‘”Aak Puul” refers to one’s Tribal Country or Homeland. It’s a term that specifically relates to a person’s father’s Country, and his father’s before him. Aurukun’s visual art is intrinsically tied to Aak Puul which finds its expression in an ancient performative cultural tradition of song and dance.’
Keith’s work in the exhibition, ‘Thiikel – Kencharang Croc’ and ‘Ku’Kencharang’ (a large crocodile and barking dog made from traditional body paint designs and ochre on Milkwood) were created to complement a set of striking contemporary paintings by his daughter, Devena Wikmunea.
Together, the bold contemporary art of the women in Aurukan and the equally vibrant sculptures by the men are part of a cultural continuum rooted in the ancestral past.
Keith says, ‘Before time, our old people carved all their totems including crocodile, echidna and kangaroo. Each carving has a relationship to a Story Place called Awa’. There are plenty of Awa’ across the Wik & Kugu Lands. These places are forbidden to the uninitiated and are considered Ngench Thayan (Sacred Place). The men’s and women’s art forms from Aurukun are all linked to these places. When we carve our totems, we are sharing our stories from these important places’.
‘Aak Puul: Art From The Wik & Kugu Region’ is open from 15 September to 2 October at Brunswick Street Gallery.
Brunswick Street Gallery
Level 1 & 2
322 Brunswick Street
Wurundjeri Country, Fitzroy VIC