Stories of Land and Sky By The Possum Sisters
We have really enjoyed hosting this wonderful exhibition by sisters Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi and Michelle Possum Nungurrayi.
Their work from the exhibition Talking about Country continues a tradition that was started by their famous father Clifford Possum. These two artists have employed some of the technical devices that Clifford developed. They’ve also included stories from the women’s side of their family.
There’s a large group of paintings from the series Grandmother’s Country which are painted in very warm colours – you’ll see pinks, mauves, burnt reds and warm greys. The artists have used the iconography that indicated how people used the land. It was a rich resource for food and medicinal plants. Then in a spiritual context they have laid out the symbols to sit across the Country, giving the meaning and context of that part of the land in the painting.
The collection also includes works that combine images of the land with the extraordinary Seven Sisters Dreaming story. This story is principally painted by Gabriella. In one large example, Gabriella combines the two stories, Grandmother’s Country and Seven Sisters Dreaming, to give a sense that the stories sit above our heads and other stories sit underneath our feet.
It’s an interesting tension between looking upwards into the heavens and looking downwards at the land spreading out before us.
The palette remains principally those warm intense colours that we associate with the art of Clifford Possum. Gabriella and Michelle create impressive paintings with a wonderful glow to them and a sense of drama and activity. You’ll see multiple centres of interest happening all over the canvas.
Several paintings by Gabriella present just the Seven Sisters story, where there is a band of light diagonally crossing the canvas, against either an inky blue or purple blue background.
The famous Seven Sisters story is widely told by Aboriginal communities right across Australia. This star group sits very low on the horizon and rises just after dark every evening.
The Pleiades story is about a group of sisters taking off from the land and heading off into the sky. They are being pursued by an older man who’s seeking a wife among one of the sisters, but he is the wrong skin group. It’s a constant drama that’s played out every night in the Australian night sky.
We’ve loved the colour and energy that these works have bought to Gallery 2.