Julie Nangala Robinson Exhibition Highlights

Julie Nangala Robinson Pirlinyanu

David Wroth from Japingka Gallery talks about some of the highlights from Julie Nangala Robinson's new solo exhibition.

I really love the mood of the new paintings from Julie Nangala Robinson. These works are all about the Water Dreaming site in the Tanami Desert and they create a mood in the gallery that feels like the rhythm of rain and flowing water. Pirlinyanu, located on the Water Dreaming songline that comes to Julie from her father's lineage, is a rocky outcrop in the desert. This is a site with water wells. These are naturally occurring holes in the rock which collect water. This Dreaming story is part of a very large Ngapa Jukurrpa or Water Dreaming songline that travels right through the desert. The place itself is a quite extraordinary visual effect as it stands out in the desert as a jagged peak, a small rocky mini-mountain sticking up out of the desert.

This rock formation is an image that recurs throughout Julie's paintings, along with a rhythmic water flow that moves across the canvas. The canvases are completely covered in dots in quite austere colour combinations, white and grey or gold and grey laid on top of a black background. In this particular work, she is echoing the importance of that location and the way it relates to the Water Dreaming stories. She is referencing the way that people traditionally have sung up the rain or contacted the power of the Dreaming story to sing and bring up rain for the desert. Julie's images are about the particular location Pirlinyanu. They're also about the Water Dreaming story writ large, in the effect of the flowing imagery marking the channels of water running down this rocky outcrop into the wells. Also above that the effect of the raindrops, where you can see the rain clouds and falling rain.

Above: Julie Nangala Robinson | Pirlinyanu | 018640

Julie Nangala Robinson | Pirlinyanu | 018633

There are several large works in this show. This one refers to the Dreaming track that connects the important water sites in the desert. This Jukurrpa, knowledge of the Dreaming, is the significant storyline that links the sites right through the desert. It also connects the various skin groups who are custodial managers of the Water Dreaming locations. This particular site that Julie paints belongs to the Nangala /Napangardi women's skin groups who are custodians for that story. Some of the paintings in this exhibition are quite austere, they're very minimal. They offset a heavy area of dark grey dots with another area, in this case they're yellow ochre or golden colour, with the dots flowing in the opposite direction to the area marked in grey.

Julie Nangala Robinson | Pirlinyanu | Jap 017242
Julie Nangala Robinson | Pirlinyanu | Jap 017242
Julie Nangala Robinson Pirlinyanu
Julie Nangala Robinson | Pirlinyanu | 017243

This painting is very large, 2.4 metres across and the largest work in the show. It is another example of the minimal approach to showing the Water Dreaming story. There are three winding tracks that move across the surface that could represent rain clouds or water flow. The bulk of the painting is entirely made of white dots with little intercepts of dark grey dots set into them. Without the artist telling us exactly what the direct idea is for this particular aspect of the Water Dreaming story, this feels like the desert country, the sandhill country and the importance of the Water Dreaming track that crosses over that land. This is about the connection between the artist and that country, the connection that comes through her father's lineage.

Julie Nangala Robinson Pirlinyanu
Julie Nangala Robinson | Pirlinyanu | 017251

This particular story has a different feel and rhythm to it, compared to many of the other paintings have a combination of two blocks of colour or two formations. This has multiple bands of colour and dotting going across the canvas. It is a little less austere and not quite as minimal as some of the other paintings. But again, we get the shapes of that rocky outcrop and we get the sense of flow and direction. With this artwork we could be looking at a weather map. It has such movement in the various bands of colour and intensity in the painting, where it's broken up into multiple bands.

The exhibition creates its own atmosphere with this coherent story of the Napa Jukurrpa. We are very proud to have Julie's work in the main gallery.  She is an outstanding talent and it's moving to feel the artistic influence of her famous mother, the late great Dorothy Napangardi.