This exhibition is brought to you by Outstation, in collaboration with the following art centres:
- Apphia Wurrkidj
- Deborah Wurrkidj
- James Iyuna
- Melba Gunjarrwanga
- Pamela Wurrkidj
- Raphael Wurrkidj
THE CONTINUING TRADITION OF BALANG JAMES IYUNA
‘I have taught my wife how to paint. Now, we’re teaching together the next generation…They’re all coming up. They are the next generation of artists.’
JAMES IYUNA, 2006
By Luke Taylor
James Iyuna (1959-2016) and his wife Melba Gunjarrwanga (1959-) were the leaders of a group of artists living at the Kuninjku speaking outstation at Mumeka and, by sharing their artistic ideas, they created a unique local style centred upon their broader family. This exhibition includes Melba’s sister’s children, Deborah Wurrkidj (1971-) and Raphael Wurrkidj (1988-), and James’ and Melba’s daughter, Apphia Wurrkidj (1984-). However the family, and the distinctive style of painting, also extends to multiple other younger artists who have benefitted from the generosity of these senior people.
This exhibition reveals the social processes by means of which painted form is shared across the generations in Kurulk art. We might step back to consider that such processes are thousands of generations deep in Western Arnhem Land. Many of us visit the escarpment of Arnhem Land and stand in awe at the aeons of art history the rock country reveals.
James Iyuna’s family show us how their religion of land creation is maintained, in part, through shared art making. Through these works, we glimpse the artistic spirit that exists within one of the greatest contributions ever made to world art. It is a contemporary expression the nation should treasure.