Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
16 March to 25 October 1999
Decorative items were the primary focus of this selection from the MCA’s Maningrida Collection. These remarkable works, selected by Diane Moon from the collection she compiled in 1985-86, were made in the 1980s by women from Maningrida, a coastal Aboriginal community in central Arnhem Land.
The artists used shells, feathers, ochres and intricate weaving patterns to create both practical and ceremonial objects of great refinement and beauty. Many items such as beaded necklaces and woven skirts were used to decorate the body. The women continually reinvented traditional forms and patterns, and improvised new ways of using materials.
The Maningrida Collection of Aboriginal Art consists of approximately 600 works of various media by Maningrida artists. The Collection is held in trust for the people of Maningrida on a long-term basis under a unique cultural agreement. The works were all created in the mid-to-late 1980s, and made, for the most part by women, revealing their ingenuity and ability to maintain strong links with the past, while at the same time incorporating new ideas and materials. Some traditional pieces – such as dragnets, fish traps and hunting bags – had been produced collectively by men and women.
The Maningrida Collection, together with the Ramingining Collection and the Arnott’s Collection are three collections of Aboriginal art which complement one another, and came to the MCA due to its commitment to and involvement with Aboriginal communities, and a curatorial perspective from ‘within’ the communities in the case of the two closely related areas of Ramingining and Maningrida.