Drill Hall Gallery: Streets of PapunyaShare Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
The refurbished Drill Hall Gallery doesn’t look very different but a substantial sum of money was required to make it a first class gallery. It was of course once for the pounding of military feet as soldiers trained for the Second World War but in 1984 it was remodelled to become an art gallery. It had its moments in the spotlight as an exhibition space for the National Gallery of Australia’s collection waiting in sheds in Fyshwick to move into that space but when the ANU took it over and particularly under the Directorship of Nancy Sever many a fine glass of wine and hunks of cheese were consumed by regulars at so many openings. When did they fill one gallery with stones for a disconcerting walk in heels and an unexpected tectonic shift in stance?
Well it’s sparkling now and currently exhibiting Streets of Papunya curated by Professor Vivien Johnson combining current works from that treasure trove of art alongside the revered pioneers of Papunya.
It is quite beautiful, especially the centrepiece, a ground painting by Papunya women featuring three Dreaming stories that appears to have been lifted from its original place at the opening of the Tandanya cultural centre in 1990 as you would an archeological discovery. Two of Papunya’s senior law women, Nellie Nagala and Tilau Nangala, came for the opening, well rugged up for the Canberra cold. Papunya now boasts in this era of Papunya art, a majority of women artists.
There are many familiar names among the works, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri most familiar but it’s the Albert Namatjira, Alambaura ( Haasts Bluff) painted in 1959 just days before he died that reminds us of his brilliance and the long slow acceptance of aboriginal art as a great Australian treasure.
To open this officially it was necessary to go across the road to the foyer of an ANU school for the speeches because eating and drinking was not allowed in the exhibition. But the wait was worth it. Make time to visit Streets of Papunya. It continues until 14 August