On the Coast - The Art of Fiona Omeenyo & Rosella Namok
30 August – 22 October 2019
Fiona Omeenyo captures the coastal lifestyle of her people living at Lockhart River settlement on Cape York Peninsula in far North Queensland. Her figurative paintings show people at everyday activities, fishing and hunting, gathering together in family groups. It is the close association of the people within the clan groups and of the groups bound to the land that are the main subjects of Fiona’s paintings. The imagery hovers between actual people and spirit figures, as though the thousands of years of activity has remained constant between all the generations in that beach location.
Rosella Namok reveals the look of the beach landscape at Lockhart, the ocean horizon with tropical rain and the changing light during the day. Her paintings are about time and place, the look and feel of the tropics during the Wet season when the afternoon rains come in to ease the heat of the day. Rosella’s landscapes come slowly into focus, we see the blurred layers of beach and sea and sky. Then we start to see the fine distinctions of the horizon and the reflections of the sea on the wet sand or the lines of breakers near the beach.
These two artists evoke their experience as Indigenous residents of a particular coastal landscape and show us their Country and the emotional power of traditional life there.
Exhibition Dates: 30 August to 22 October 2019
Location: Japingka Aboriginal Art Gallery, 47 High St Fremantle.
Exhibition Walk Through
With David Wroth
Lockhart River has always been an excellent source for contemporary painting. Over the last twenty years, there has been impressive development of the young artists from that community.
This exhibition, called On The Coast, has paintings from Rosella Namok and Fiona Omeenyo. Rosella’s sense of that coastal country, right at the North of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, really captures the tropical atmosphere. It captures the rain falling over the ocean. In this exhibition, there are a couple of very big panoramic paintings from Rosella. They’re well over two metres long, and they give a wonderful sweeping sense of the coastal landscape, the rain falling, and the way the colours merge at different times of the day.
The compatibility of the works of these two artists is interesting because all of Fiona’s works are figurative. We’ve become accustomed, over several of her exhibitions, to these beautiful figures. They feel like the ancestor or spiritual images of her people. They are also images of Fiona’s family doing everyday activities on the coast. They might be fishing or collecting shells on the beach. Some paintings show people gathering in family groups for meals, or out searching for food. There’s always a sense of the family unit, that’s the dynamic of the community.
The colour use that Fiona Omeenyo applies to her paintings has its own dynamic. She often uses highly contrasting rich colours. These colours give that extra appeal to the whole structure.
These paintings are exhibited in Gallery 2. It is a smaller space than we have used for previous exhibitions of Lockhart River paintings. The effect of these powerful works hanging together is exciting. There’s compatibility even though one artist focuses on landscape, and the other is focused on figures. The two artists together make a fantastic show.