Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
14 June to 7 October 1994
This exhibition of Aboriginal art came from Maningrida in Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory. The objects presented were part of a large collection of work by Maningrida artists which the MCA holds in trust on a long-term basis. The exhibition was selected by Diane Moon, Art Adviser for Maningrida Arts and Culture, who chose works over a three year period for inclusion in the collection.
Maningrida is on the coast of central Arnhem Land. The cultural and artistic diversity of the community is evident through the works of art produced there by artists of nine distinct language groups, living in the geographically diverse region around the town. The artists continued to work from a traditional cultural base, using locally available materials almost exclusively, while experimenting with plants and fibres.
The Maningrida Collection at the MCA consists of about 600 works in various materials, including fibre, seeds, shells and feathers. The fibre works were mostly made by women, using traditional forms and patterns that were reinvented. Some traditional pieces, including drag nets, fish traps and hunting bags, were produced collectively by men and women, and used for ceremonial purposes.
The objects in this exhibition reflected the Country of each group of artists: whether they lived close to the coast, on the swampy plains or on the rocky escarpment. The objects also reflected artistic influences that sprung from the availability of materials, an active ceremonial lifestyle, and the inspiration gained from working in close-knit family groups. The weavings revealed both continuity with pre-European traditions and innovations associated with the use of new forms, materials, textures and colours.