Land & Title
When: Until 31 January 2019
Where: Joss Family Galleries, MAMA
The collection of the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) consists of over 2000 objects and works of art. It is a collection of diversity and strength, and like any sustained collection, it wears its history proudly. The careful examination of any such collection is an act of cultural archaeology that variously reveals through-lines of focus, moments of great achievement or generosity, curiosities, spasms of eccentricity, maligned histories, and reasons for deserved civic, personal or institutional pride. The MAMA collection is no different in this regard.
This spectrum of inquiry and endeavour is no easy thing to map. As such, the current hang of the MAMA art collection, under the banner of Land and Title, does not attempt a comprehensive survey. Rather, it seeks moments of connection between art works that bridge divides of time, style, medium and origin.
Land & Title is an exclusively Australian exhibition, and takes its title from Albury’s Land and Title Building, which was renovated to form part of the MAMA redevelopment, and now contains the Joss Family Galleries that house the exhibition.
Artworks that relate directly to artist’s experience of the local area are included, with Russell Drysdale’s Convoy on a road near Albury, and Mary Jane Griggs Arboreta series, featuring prominently. These sit within an exchange between artworks that consider the complex history of Australia more broadly. Gordon Bennett’s print works Poem and Penetration explicitly address the violent colonisation of this land by British forces, Yorta Yorta artist Uncle Phil Murray’s collection of spears signposts Aboriginal resilience whilst celebrating traditional practices of object making, whilst Gloria Petyarre’s Leaves provides a modest, yet beautiful example of the artist’s defining painterly motif, elongated daubs of paint that suggest the dynamism of nature and speak to practices of bush medicine. Also included are works by Tom Roberts, Fred Williams and Ian Fairweather, three male artists who, although separated in time and celebrated in their own unique ways, present markers of colonial histories of Australia that inform an understanding of the ongoing centrality of land to Australian cultural sensibilities.
These works of art provide a frame upon which ideas that relate more closely to subjective inspection, material exploration and the nature of narrative and storytelling can be supported. Artists in this section of Land and Title include Bea Maddock, Aida Tomescu and Mike Parr, three artists who have greatly informed recent histories of Australian printmaking, photographers Olive Cotton, Tracey Moffatt, Bill Henson and Justine Varga, as well as Asher Bilu and Gunter Christmann, John Coburn and Jimmy Njiminjuma.
The works of the nineteen artists presented in Land and Title collectively offer a story of the complexity, difference and strength of recent Australian art practice, and the relationship between the art and the environment in which it was made.