Satellite Exhibition I Nexus Arts, Lions Arts Centre, North Terrace, Adelaide
Image: Nura Rupert, 1933 – 2016, Pitjantjatjara people, South Australia, Camela, 2004, screenprint, 30.4 x 39.2 cm (image); 38.0 x 56.0 cm (sheet), edition 3/35, printed by Basil Hall, Basil Hall Editions, Pukatja/Ernabella Arts Community Collection, owned by Ernabella Arts Inc on behalf of Pukatja Community and held by Flinders University Museum of Art as custodian TAN 1264.162 © the artist / Ernabella Arts Inc, image courtesy FUMA
Nura Rupert: Mamu and mischief
28 April – 26 May 2023
Satellite Exhibition I
Nexus Arts, Lions Arts Centre, North Terrace, Adelaide
Celebrated Pitjantjatjara artist Nura Rupert (c. 1933 – 2016) forged a unique style through the mediums of painting and printmaking. This exhibition reflects on the energy, humour and vision she brought to her practice through selected works from the Ernabella Archive and Flinders University Museum of Art collections.
Nura Rupert: Mamu and mischief is curated by Adelaide-based Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara artist Elizabeth Yanyi Close for the IN_SITE First Nations Emerging Curator Program. IN_SITE is a collaboration between Nexus Arts and Flinders University Museum of Art co-led by Mirning artist and academic Dr. Ali Gumillya Baker and supported by Arts South Australia.
Born in Tjitapiti, in the northern Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands of South Australia, Nura Rupert (c. 1933 – 2016) was raised at the Ernabella Mission where she learned to knit and weave and make hooked floor rugs. She also learned punu (wood carving) and poker work techniques producing animals such as snakes, birds, donkeys and rabbits as well as wira (carrying dishes).
It was not until many years later, when she was in her late 60s, that Rupert began experimenting with acrylic paint on canvas and printmaking practices producing lithographs, etchings and linocuts on paper. In these works, she displays a fresh and quirky approach recounting tukurpa and memories of growing up. Here, recurring themes include mamu (spooky spirits or monsters), tjiti (children) and papa (camp dogs) with at least one print depicting the artist as a young girl learning to ride a camel.
As she rose to fame, becoming one of the region’s most sought-after artists, Rupert’s prints and paintings featured in many exhibitions and were acquired by major public institutions including the National Gallery of Australia. This exhibition, presented in what would have been her 90th year, reflects on the energy, humour and vision the artist brought to her practice through selected works from the Ernabella Archive and and Flinders University Museum of Art collections.
The Ernabella Mission was established by the Presbyterian Church in the Musgrave Ranges of north-west South Australia in 1937. As well as a church and school, the Mission operated a station running some 5000 head of sheep. This enterprise provided stock training to the men and produced the wool used in the ‘craft room’ which was set up 1948 to teach new skills to the women and girls and generate an income for the community. In 1974, after the Board of Missions had withdrawn from Ernabella, the craft room was incorporated to ensure the independence of the artists and their business. Known today as Ernabella Arts Inc., the organisation is Australia's oldest continuously running Aboriginal art centre.
The Ernabella Archive is a collection of over 600 artworks including ceramics, sculpture, textiles, paintings, prints and works on paper produced at Pukatja (Ernabella) from the mid-20th to early 21st centuries. Owned by Ernabella Arts Inc., the works are housed at Flinders University Art Museum under an agreement established in 2019 to consolidate cultural material for future generations of Anangu and wider community, and to ensure its safekeeping.
Flinders University Museum of Art (FUMA) is generously supported by people who share the belief that art matters.
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