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Artist Study: Wandjina Figures, Western Australia

03 - 26 - 20

My original interest in Aboriginal art, particularly Wandjina figures found in Western Australia, was sparked through my discovering of Roger Ballen’s drawings that he showers much of his sets with. Found through the reference section of a book on Ballen, I came across the Wally Garuna book on Aboriginal Art. Below are detailed some studies of the works I found particularly compelling.

Although I recognise I am moving away from figurative drawing, towards a more subtle, abstraction of form, natural progression from my year 2 work, I believe I do feel these works became significant in a manner not quite apparent until I had completed my studies on the book.

Whilst appreciating that my work is moving towards abstraction, away from my cave drawing inspirations, the gesture present in these paintings I see as a callback to the key aims of my work.

In the most unembellished manner, these drawings of the Wanjina figures, capture an awareness of life's rhythm and natural energetic exchange. The manner in which they are painted conveys an intention of mark making that I would liken to the effect of one's projection of emotional energy onto one's surroundings, sometimes the impression left is as stark as an etched line in a cave.

(Left to right):

I: Detail studies of Wandjina figures painted on rock at Mandanggari on the Gibb River, Kimberley, Western Australia. Alongside Roger Ballen's figures, these highly influence my own figures and 'sprite' forms.

II: Details taken from Space Tracking Station, (1967), Mung-gurrawuy Yunupingu, North East Arnhem Land. Slightest alterations in the arm posture can change the stance of the figures from defiant to pleading.

III: Rock engravings, Cape York Peninsula (After Rosenfeld et al. 1981) Taken as inspiration/springboards for some of the forms I create in my own work.

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