Marrga – Creating the Pilbara: Yinjaa-Barni Artists
13 February – 18 March 2015
Yinjaa-Barni artists have worked for over a decade to establish their name in the Aboriginal art world. Traditionally they are the owners of the Fortescue River region in the Pilbara. For over twenty years Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara resisted the move to express their culture through the burgeoning desert art movement. The sentiment was that by trading in cultural knowledge there was a risk of devaluing their heritage.
So when Yinjaa- Barni artists started to tell their own stories to the world, they had a lot of catching up to do. But they had a unique asset to draw on, the ancient, time worn landscapes of the Pilbara. The contrasts of this extreme environment are its source of inspiration. At the surface it is a dry, harsh land worn down by constant heat, its exposed rocks eroded and cracked.
But for people with local knowledge this is also a place with the hidden gorges of cool water, and a cycle of regeneration after the heat. For Aboriginal people the seeds and flowers bursting out after rain are part of the Creation stories of the Marrga. The creation spirits of the Marrga raised the sky and the earth, forming them out of the ocean. The Marrga then gave names and form to the country and then to all the birds and animals. Finally they created the Ngaardangarli, the Aboriginal people. This creation story is called Ngurru Nyujunnggama –when the World was soft.
So Yinjaa- Barni artists have drawn on their heritage and the landscape they live in to tell time-honoured stories of their people. It is a view of the land regenerated. It is a story that sits alongside the contemporary story of mining in the Pilbara, the massive iron ore industry that dominates its economy.
About fifteen artists make up the studio group at Yinjaa-Barni Arts, but their stories carry a significant weight, the ancient stories of survival in this difficult country. This latest exhibition is on display from 13 February until18 March 2015, and is presented in association with Yinjaa-Barni Art Centre.
More information on this region can be found here.