The Influence of Batik in Art of Jorna Newberry

This painting is by an artist called Jorna Newberry. Her traditional country is around the tri-state border between Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

These are some of the new paintings that Jorna's getting ready for an exhibition, and this one is about burning off.

We're looking at a canvas that is two thirds red with sweeping red lines and dots over on one side. Then there's the country in a sort of a pale yellow and white area on the left. This is the story of burning off.

This is a time when people actually come together for ceremonies. It is the time when they manage the land and they also have the larger number of people to feed, so they combine the burning off with the hunting process so that animals are herded and they hunt for however many people they have to feed.

It's a subject that's tied into ceremony and culture and meaning, but it's also about land management.

What we are seeing in this painting is the emergence of a new style. The kind of marks that Jorna Newberry makes are not typical of her region. They're a bit more like the innovation that happens in a place like Utopia in Central Australia where the women started off as batik fabric artists and developed some amazing innovations that came from other traditions.

This is just a great example of someone who has a fantastic artistic mind and who is finding ways of expressing an idea and a style to make it work.

The Utopia group are very inventive like this. They'll find all these different ways of mark making. They'll even find different devices to put the paint on with. Often they don't even use brushes.

I’ve sometimes argued that the success of Utopia is partly to do with the process of batik because in batik you have to work from lightest to darkest because the dark just buries the previous ones, so you're building it up, you can't do it from the opposite direction, it doesn't work. People have to think from the background forward.

This this innovative style painting in Jorna’s art reminds me of that process.

See more: Art by Jorna Newberry