The Rain Making – A Story about Kurtal, by David Downs

Kurtal by David Downs Jap 010521

When we’re doing an opening night for a show here at Japingka Gallery we usually tell a story.

There’s not a lot of  pre-planning to it, we just pick a painting and talk to the people who are in the room about something that has a strong impact on us.

Let me give you an example. At our last opening two weeks ago, we picked this David Downs painting - Kurtal.

David's painting shows figures all dressed in ceremonial body paint with headdresses on, it is a big rain making ceremony. It's the oldest painting in the room, and he painted it in the mid-1980s.

David was the boss for this rain making ceremony out in the desert where he lived. We talked about that and we talked about his connection with Jimmy Pike, because he was from the same language group. They were from adjacent parts of the desert neighbourhood where they came from.

In the late 1980s we took an exhibition of Jimmy Pike's to Tokyo. A request was made for a performance to go with the exhibition in Tokyo.

The young men who were dancing this exact dance and this exact ceremony or song that's in this painting came to Tokyo with us. It was their rainmaking performance that went with the exhibition of Jimmy Pike's artwork.

It's like one of those circular things now that this particular painting has come back to us.
 It’s beautiful example of the ceremony, painted by the custodian of the ceremony.

Then there’s another layer of connection tied in with Jimmy Pike and Japingka Gallery. It is a classic painting and a classic story and it means a lot to have the story present with us again.

See paintings in our collections by David Downs