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Artbank X Sydney Festival

Ever wondered what inspires the team at Sydney Festival?

Artbank is one of the largest collections of contemporary Australian art in the world, with over 10,000 artworks available for the public to lease. Our unique artwork rental program has proudly supported thousands of Australian artists over the last 40 years.

Working with the talented team at Sydney Festival for the last five years, Artbank has helped to keep the Sydney Festival office walls energised with fresh artworks from the extensive Artbank collection!

Take a look at the Artbank collection artworks selected by the team at Sydney Festival to inspire!

The first three selections take us to the very heart of the Australian desert with vibrant and spirited artworks by five important women from Amata Community located in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia.

Puli Murpu by Ruby Tjangawa Williamson depicts the Musgrave Ranges, situated behind Amata. Williamson (1940-2014) was a Pitjantjatjara elder and one of the founding artists of Tjala Arts in Amata, South Australia. Williamson was dedicated to fostering traditional law and culture through story-telling, hunting, punu (wood) carving, dancing and painting. Known for using dotting and flat blocks of colour, Williamson also combined traditional designs with contemporary symbols to depict creation stories.

The three circles in the top of the composition of this work are kapi tjukula (rockholes), where the water collects after the rains, while the large flat plain yellow represents the mountains viewed from the sides and above. These, along with the branch of the honey grevillea are symbols that appear consistently in Williamson’s work. We can almost feel the heat off the desert sand radiating from the piece with the sweet smell of the honey Grevillia filling the canvas

Ruby Tjangawa Williamson Puli Murpu, 2010

Ruby Tjangawa Williamson Puli Murpu, 2010

Wawiriya Burton’s painting Ngayuku Ngura (My Country) 2010, tells the story of her father’s country near Pitjantjatjara, west of Amata. It depicts marsupial desert mice (mingkiri), giving birth to their many young, and traveling to the surrounding rockholes in search of food and water to feed them. Burton is a Senior artist, Ngangakari (a traditional healer) and a revered caretaker of Anangu law and culture.

Wawiriya Burton Ngayuku ngura, 2010

Wawiriya Burton Ngayuku ngura, 2010

Artbank is one of the first collecting institutions to support emerging artists, who at the time of acquisition are in the early stages of their career and will go on to achieve wonderful artistic triumphs. This was certainly the case for this wonderful collaboration by sisters Tjungkara Ken, Sandra Ken and Yaritji Young acquired by Artbank in 2010. Here, they have come together to paint the Seven Sisters tale, a Tjukurpa (creation story) about the constellations also known as Pleiades and Orion. The story traverses the grand expanse of sky, earth and time, telling of the creative endeavours of the seven women in their plight to escape the constant and unwanted attention of the 'lusty' Nyiru. The story follows the sisters as they are endlessly chased across sky and earth, transforming themselves; constantly trying to stay one step ahead of Nyriu's impure behaviour, magical trickery and traps.

Tjungkara Ken, Sandra Ken, Yaritji Young Seven Sisters, 2010

Tjungkara Ken, Sandra Ken, Yaritji Young Seven Sisters, 2010

The final work, Maranoa River Lines, is from Queensland artist Joanne Currie Nalingu. Spending her early years at the Yumba mission on the banks of the Maranoa River, Currie has strong memories of the hardships along the river, which plays an important part in the subject matter of her work. Currie has also spent time studying shield designs that belong to her Mandandanyi people and marries these with her lyrical depictions of the flowing river.

Joanne Currie Nalingu, Maranoa River Lines, 2007

Joanne Currie Nalingu, Maranoa River Lines, 2007

The ancient stories these paintings depict are rooted in song, dance, ceremony, bush food and traditional culture all bursting with relevance to our contemporary world, inspiring new stories and programs for the Sydney Festival team!

Get in touch with an Artbank Art Consultant today and support Australian contemporary artists.

Message a consultant today!