Five Rising Stars on the Australian Art Scene

March 20, 2015 by Ian Plunkett

Here are five rising stars in the world of Aboriginal Art that I'd like to draw your attention to.

Kerry McCarthy, Rak Balgul - Jap 011689

1. Kerry McCarthy

Kerry comes from east of Darwin, near Daly River, and her work is really exciting. We've already had one of her exhibitions here at Japingka in 2013, and we've got another coming up.  I'm really looking forward to that. Kerry is exciting because her artworks don't stand still. She's not afraid to experiment and she is technically very good. She has a great eye, and is a natural talent. Kerry was trained by her older sister, Helen McCarthy. Their work is different, but they are both highly innovative. Kerry is certainly a talent, a rising star.

Rosella Namok | Spitting Rain Ya Come | Jap 011618

2. Rosella Namok

Rosella is from the Lockhart River in Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. She takes her inspiration mainly from the country she lives in, up in the tropics. Her art is a crossover in a way. She brings an innate indigenous understanding of the land and the different seasons. She is a painter of seascapes, but in the tropics that is ever changing. Rosella's work is so evocative. You feel like you're there. You can feel the humidity and what she calls "the stinging rain" - you can feel the warmth in it. She is definitely on her way up as an artist. The more people who know about her, the better.

Sarrita King, Ancestors - Jap 008736

3. Sarrita King

An obvious choice for my list is 26 year old Sarrita King. This artist just goes from strength to strength to strength. She's already had exhibitions in Berlin, Paris and Singapore. Her work is never static. She keeps bringing out new designs that are incredibly intricate. Sarrita has a great eye for composition and palette. She does really large works and really small ones too. I just find her, not only a delightful person, but a really major talent.  She was taught how to paint by her father who tragically died young at the age of 41. I feel Sarrita has been inspired by her father and this comes through in the passion she brings to her work. I always look forward to seeing her art.

Helen McCarthy, Awurrapun Crocodile Story - Jap 011186

4. Helen McCarthy

Helen McCarthy is Kerry's older sister. She won the Telstra People's Choice Award which shows what a broad appeal her art has. She is innovative and not afraid to take risks. Her work never stands still. It's always evolving. Helen is a real character, she's an out-there kind of person who loves life. You can feel that in her artwork. Some of her black and white paintings tell the crocodile Dreaming stories and others are a mass of colour. I sometimes think the colours she chooses just wouldn't go together but the way Helen puts things together, they just do. She is a major talent. We've got an exhibition of her work coming up in August and I can't wait to see it.  We haven't seen Helen for a while but we always keep in touch with what she's doing. I'm really excited about her work.

Marcia Purdie, Red Valley - Jap 011301

5. Marcia Purdie

Marcia's very different from the other painters I've mentioned. She is very much carrying on a tradition of ochre painting from the Kimberley. She uses naturally occurring pigments similar to those used by Rover Thomas and Queenie McKenzie before her. Marcia has a great sense of composition. Her stunning aerial views of country are so powerful. It's really good to see artists carry on a tradition like that. Marcia is not afraid to change composition, and her work has a timelessness and power to it.

If you'd like to see why I'm so excited by these artists you can follow the links here to see more of their work.

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