Healesville dreaming

Christine Joy holds a painting by Artist Steven Jupurrurla Nelson called "Janganpa Jukurrpa (Brush-tailed Possum Dreaming), Mawurrji. Upper left is a photograph of him working accompanied by a Dog. 188470_02

By Michael Doran

For thousands of years, dogs have held a special place in aboriginal life and culture and are the centrepiece of a new exhibition at Hearth Galleries in Healesville.

Sam Gunner, a UK born photographer lives and works in Yuendumu, an aboriginal community 290 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs. On display is a collection portraying her experience of living in the remote community and the connection between aboriginal communities and their dogs.

Hearth Galleries Creative Director, Christine Joy met Sam Gummer while spending six months immersed in aboriginal life in Yuendumu. She said she went there to learn more about the culture and its art before setting up her gallery in Healesville.

“I searched for a community to go to and found Yuendumu,” she said. “It’s a place that is rich in learning about the dreaming stories, which are very powerful to the people living there.

The second part of the exhibition includes hand-made metal dogs, painted by members of the Warlukurlangu Artists group.

“Each of the Aussie Desert Dogs are based on an individual living dog from within the community and they are all one-of-a-kind. They are made of metal, cut out by prisoners from Northern Territory correctional facilities and then hand painted at the artists centre in Yuendumu,” Ms Joy said.

The exhibition includes a collection of paintings from the Warlukurlangu Artists from Yuenmudu and it is here where the link between the photographs and dreaming stories comes into perspective.

“This photo is of people doing mosaic burning to manage country and then you have this painting which tells the same story. The photographs are telling the story of the art.

“Painting is not an intellectual process, it’s about telling a story in a profound way. This is a storytelling device and that’s why the juxtaposition of the photographs and art enriches their story so much.

“People have come in here, seen a work of art and then found out the story behind it and had quite an emotional reaction. Art can do that, can’t it.”

The exhibition runs until Sunday 30 December at Hearth Galleries in Healesville.