Exhibition at Treehouse Gallery, Birregurra

aboriginal art EXHIBITION in the otway's

The Treehouse Gallery specializes in exhibiting and promoting beautiful Australian fine timbers, paintings and artisan crafts from Australia's art and craft community.  Red Desert Dreamings Gallery and Treehouse Gallery are currently presenting a collection of Aboriginal artworks at the gallery.


Treehouse Gallery is part of an innovative idea for the Otway region.  It was borne out of the need for the Otway Agroforestry Network (OAN) to have an office and focal point. A wonderful space was found in a double-fronted bluestone shop in the main street of Birregurra. Deemed too good for just office space, OAN members Marianne and Nicky Stewart decided to set up the gallery to promote beautiful Australian timbers, forest products and sustainability. The Treehouse Gallery and OAN Office opened on May 29th 2010 in tune with the inaugural Otway Agroforestry Network Annual Farm Tree Expo in Birregurra.

Birregurra, in the foothills of the Otway Ranges, is a small picturesque township famed for gourmet foods and leisure shopping. It is in Victoria’s South-West in the Otways hinterland close to Lorne, Apollo Bay and Colac. It is within two hours drive from Melbourne on the A1 Hwy via the Geelong Bypass and Winchelsea.

Open Friday to Monday 11am-4.30pm , or by appointment.

55 Main Street, Birregurra, Victoria, Australia 3242

Aboriginal Art from Yuendemu


..."look we've got these colours all around us everywhere..." Paddy Stewart, one of the senior Aboriginal desert artists from Yuendumu said, he pointed to the sky "look blue and there's red there, these are the colours of our world you know"

Yuendumu Art is known for it's colourful art and wild flamboyant style.   The art centre at Yuendumu, Warlukurlangu Art, is covered with these paintings of Dreamtime stories.  Yuendumu's painting movement started around the mid 80's.  Anthropologists, Francoise Dussart and Meredith Morris were researching women's body designs and the painting techniques.  They supplied artist materials to the women, a group of approx 30, who painted and then sold their works done on coolamons, boards and beads to raise money to buy a four-wheel drive for the community.

The National Gallery of Australia bought a painting of the night sky for $3,000 and the money the artists got from this helped them to establish the cooperative Warlukurlangu Artists Association in 1986 with 90 members.  It now represents many hundreds of artists.

Yuendumu is approx 300km northwest of Alice Springs.  It was established in 1946 and until the 1960's was under the government assimilation policy.  In 1978 it was handed back to it's community of around 800 people. 

The art centre is the hub of the community and although many of the artists paint off-site, the centre is where they all come to enjoy each others company;  paint, laugh and talk.  During the school holidays the children come to paint with the elders and learn about their Dreamtime stories, an important part of their culture.  Many world-famous artists have come from this area; Judy Napangardi Watson, Maggie Napangardi Watson, Paddy Tjungarrayi, Dolly Daniels, Peggy Napurrula, Bessie Simms, Liddy Napanangka.

View some of the Warlukurlangu artists' work....

Judy Napangardi Watson

Dorothy Napangardi Robinson

Lily Kelly Napangardi

Symbols of the Desert


Traditionally the symbols that we now see on many paintings were drawn in the sand as a map that marked a waterhole, animal tracks or where good bush tucker could be found. 

These symbols also pointed the way to important and sacred sites.  

In the past many of these images were only to be viewed by those who had passed their initiation....after they were drawn in the sand and their meanings learnt by the young initiates they were destroyed.  When they were first painted onto canvas and board creating a permanent medium it caused a lot of problems.  Whilst it was a permanent record for posterity, it also contravened a very important part of Aboriginal law, these sacred symbols were not to be generally viewed.

The Dreamtime stories painted by the Aboriginal artists of today still have all the spiritual significance that they always have.  The same strict lores still exist and only those initiated to these Dreamtime stories are allowed to reproduce them in paint on canvas.

Many who view these paintings have no idea of the importance of what they are looking at.  The contemporary Aboriginal art works of today have evolved quite dramatically...there are a lot of patterns and dots, bold splashes of colour, subtle transformation of symbols;  but the important or significant symbols are still there, they are still part of the Dreamtime story and must be included, but they have been either hidden within the patterns or painted over to hide them altogether.  Only those initiated understand what to look for within these works. 

As other Aboriginal artists started to paint on canvas the repetition of dots became common-place and a new trend started to emerge.  The original intention of masking the sacred elements lead the way to another approach and style of painting and the evolution of contemporary artworks that have made many of Australia's Aboriginal artists world famous.

These works by Kuddtji, an Aboriginal elder, whose paintings titled "My Country" show an amazing sense of colour, balance and knowledge of his country.

Mina Mina Dreaming....Aboriginal art and the creation

There is a painting in the gallery at the Hilton by Aboriginal artist Judy Napangardi Watson about the Mina Mina.  This Dreaming or Jukurrpa, is about the Creation Time and the country associated with this painting is west of Yuendumu.  It is significant to the Napangardi and the Napanangka women, the custodians of the Jukurrpa of that area.   It tells the story of a group of women, all ages, who travelled the country gathering food and performing sacred ceremonies as they went about their travels.  The journey begins at Mina Mina where digging sticks emerged from the ground.  The women took these implements and used them to create other sites by putting the digging sticks into the ground to create water.  They also used Ngalyipi, a sacred vine, that the women made "bush-string" with the fibers, the bark is used for ceremonial wraps and also as a tourniquet for headaches. 

Painted in bright flamboyant colours with a bold and energetic design that Judy Napangardi Watson is famous for, it tells us a very important story of creation and also shows us how this amazing senior Aboriginal women artist is able to convey the important message of Creation thru her artworks.

Patrick Oloddodi Tjungurrayi - senior Aboriginal lawmen


Visitors to the gallery at the Hilton continue to be surprised at the brilliance of this painting (currently on display) by Patrick Tjungurrayi.  So many marvel how the artist, a senior law man from the desert, can paint with such brilliant colours and create such a startling work.  This painting depicts designs associated with the site of Myilili near Jupiter Well, in the central desert area of Australia.  In mythological times a large group of Tingari Men (senior Aboriginal lawmen) camped near this site before traveling south-east to Ngarru where they performed sacred dances and sang the songs associated with the area.


Jagamara exhibition opened at the Hilton

The Michael Nelson Jagamara exhibition is looking fantastic in the foyer of the Hilton  Hotel, many who came on opening night were obviously overwhelmed with the quality of the works on display.  It was great to hear so many positive comments and also follow on with sales of these energetic works.  One person said that he thought the works were painted by a young "street artist" and showed obvious amazement when told that they were produced by a senior indigenous lawman.  The exhibition continues with more works on display in the gallery on level 4.

A Telstra for Tiwi

Friday 10 August 2012 _Tiwi Island artist Timothy Cook has won the 29th Telstra NATSIAA with an outstanding ochre painting on linen.

Red Desert Dreamings Gallery Director Kevin Winward spent a few days on Melville Island earlier in the week assisting the Tiwi College at Pickertaramoor with a project aimed at attracting corporate  visitors to these fabulous islands.

( more about this later). Whilst there Kevin  purchased a beautiful  ochre painting on linen by Timothy from Jilamara Art Centre and another bark painting by him at the Tiwi Art Network Exhibition in Darwin on Friday morning prior to the announcement of Timothy as the Telstra winner – very good timing!



2012 Telstra Art Awards

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) is due to host the 29th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

“Since the 63 pre-selected works began arriving two months ago, MAGNT staff have been busy preparing the artworks, stretching paintings on canvas, framing works on paper and preparing supports for three dimensional works,” Mr Waight, Indigenous Art Curator, said.

MAGNT Director, Pierre Arpin said: “This year’s exhibition is made up of many wonderful and unique pieces, including works on paper, paintings, barks and three dimensional works.”

The official opening and the presentations of awards will be on Friday 10th August, 2012.

The Award was established in 1984 by the MAGNT to recognize important contributions made by Indigenous artists and to promote appreciation and understanding of the quality and diversity of their artforms.

Kevin will be at the opening award ceremony, so watch this space and we’ll put all the details and winners in the next day.

Dreamtime Stories

Many people are confused by the term “Dreaming” or “Dreamtime stories” as they relate to Aboriginal paintings.

Aboriginal people use the term “Dreamtime” as the beginning when the plants, animals, people, elements and land was created and the cycles of life began. The beginning of creation will never end, but it is also the past, to Aboriginal people it represents the present and the future.

When the term “Dreaming” is used it often refers to a family or a groups individual belief and the responsibilities that they have inherited.

In the beginning each family or group was given responsibility for a plant, animal or section of land. No individual can assume ownership of any of these things, but rather are responsible for their care and well-being, they also have an obligation to educate future generations by passing down their knowledge. These are the Dreaming stories, handed down from generation to generation. When we view paintings such as Honey Ant Dreaming or Bush Tomato Dreaming we are looking at a particular family’s story they have inherited, in turn that story must be passed down to future generations giving them a sense of who they are and where they came from.

Originally paintings were done on the walls of caves showing “creator spirits” or hunting stories; on the body for ceremonies and in the sand, depicting animal tracks or places where water or food is found.

Many artworks we see hanging in galleries today have been painted using modern artists materials such as canvas and acrylic paint. They are the stories of the “Dreamtime” and are there to teach us all about a rich and vibrant culture that has been living off this land for over 50,000 years. All Aboriginal artworks, no matter how modern they look, are based on spiritual beliefs. The stories of the Dreamtime are told in the same way as they always have, but the skills of individual artists (senior lawmen and women) have evolved to create new and exciting ways to tell their stories.

Big bold and definitely awesome

Aboriginal artist, Michael Nelson Jagamara's, exhibition

at the Hilton Hotel on South Wharf is certainly one not to be missed if you’re a passionate Aboriginal art lover. The slide show opposite gives an online view of each work, but a visit to see these powerful artworks first-hand will leave a lasting impression.
The exciting thing about Jagamara’s most current work on display is the artist’s transition; evolving from a traditional desert painter to a powerful and resolved contemporary artist.
For any Aboriginal art collector these works are not to be missed as they go to the very heart of why the Aboriginal Art Movement has become one of the most important art movements of our time. Australian Aboriginal art is now collected by galleries, museums and art-lovers worldwide and Jagamara’s work is an essential ingredient to any serious collection.
The Dreamtime story that accompanies each work is thousands of years old, each story is rich in the history of the spiritual journey of this land and holds the knowledge of laws and customs. Michael Nelson Jagamara still tells these stories as he always has. The message is the same, but the journey of the artists and the styles of representation in their paintings have changed dramatically. The works in this exhibition show us one of the most significant and major contemporary artists of our time.
Michael Nelson Jagamara is the Brett Whitley of the Aboriginal art world. Energetic and daring, confident in line and form, his works explode with colour, painted by a self-assured artist who represents his Dreamtime stories with respect and pride….the kangaroo, the possum, and the bush turkey; elements of the weather, ceremonial sites, the law of the land and much more.

"I thought to myself - I'll do different way to them mob instead of copying them. Do my own way".