Gallery opens it doors with Animal People

Diptych - 'Spirit of the Lyrebird' painted by Amanda Wright.

By Jed Lanyon

Hearth Galleries has opened its doors to visitors again and is displaying a new exhibition, Animal People.

The exhibition explores kinship, sentience and reciprocity in Aboriginal culture and features the artwork of Amanda Wright.

Ms Wright is a Palawa artist, who lives in Boronia. She has a degree in Fine Arts and has completed public artworks in Healesville’s Coronation Park as well as in Yarra Ranges Council chambers.

“I think it’s time she’s acknowledged for her incredible work,” Ms Joy said. “I think her work is quite significant, it’s original and she has this great sensitivity for this feeling of being connected.

“We often talk about connectivity with living things but in her paintings she really captures that emotion.”

Ms Wright comes from a family of artists, including her mother, her maternal grandfather, her sister, and her mother’s cousin. Ms Joy said Ms Wright would recall her uncle painting at the age of three or four. It was at that moment she decided that painting was for her.

“Amanda sees her practice as being linked to her state of mind, and represented by stages throughout her artistic life. At university she used a palette knife composing full-length bodies on large canvases. Now her work is focused on tenderly conceived portraits of Aboriginal people that give a window into the subjects’ spiritual and emotional worlds.

“Amanda doesn’t always know who the people are that emerge in her compositions. The current period of prolific painting she believes was triggered by a family reunion where she learnt more about her family and began researching her family history. Amanda’s painting is inspired by her thoughts of her mother, grandmother and her great-grandmother, the circumstances they survived, their strength and their resilience.”

“I found my family and now I’m trying to find spirit,” Ms Wright said. “I just have to paint every day. I have so many ideas. Painting is all I have ever known.”

The works of Animal People depict the ancestral beings in Dreaming stories and their creation journeys. Besides works created by local artists there are works from the Central Desert region and the Top End, sculptural and paintings.

“Each of the various parts of Australia and different Aboriginal countries, they all have their own way of expressing things. The art can be quite diverse yet still expressing the same principles and beliefs.

“In western culture, we think of ourselves as strictly human, but in Indigenous culture, ancestral beings, whether plants or animal beings, they could appear in human form. They are creators as well and with that comes much more of a respect and equality for plants and animal beings.”