Talking about Country – Possum Sisters
The strong artistic family traditions inherited by Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi and her sister Michelle come from their father Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932 – 2002). These artistic traditions include the stories and iconographic designs associated with their clan country in Central Australia. Clifford Possum was one of the core group of painters at Papunya who helped establish the Desert art movement from the 1970s onwards. His distinctive style and use of colour, combined with the elegant use of symbols that came out of the ancient traditions of storytelling and ceremonial use, provided a rich heritage of skills and techniques. These were passed on to Gabriella when she was very young. So by the time she was 16 Gabriella had already won the prestigious Alice Springs Art Prize in 1983.
Gabriella and Michelle Possum have inherited stories on the women’s side of their family, and these include the Seven Sisters Dreaming story from country near Napperby Creek. Other important stories include Bush Tucker and Women’s Ceremonies, Bush Coconut and Black Seed Dreaming stories, all largely associated with country at Yuelamu on Mt Allan.
For Gabriella and Michelle as they approach the age of 50, their contribution to the contemporary Aboriginal art movement that began in the time of their father at Papunya has been substantial and enduring. Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi and Michelle Possum Nungurrayi have created paintings that have crossed over into the wider Australian understanding of Country and artistic tradition.
The exhibition of their recent paintings is being presented at Japingka Gallery from 7 April to 17 May 2017.