Mornington Island Art: Legacies Living On

Mornington Island (MI) Art Centre’s exhibition, Legacies Living On, articulates the intertwined dreaming and storylines of both the Kaiadilt and Lardil people now based at Mirndiyan Gununa (Mornington Island), paying homage to the leading modern artists from their respective clans.

Twelve contemporary Lardil and Kaidildt artists worked together to produce the suite of refined collaborative paintings, jointly selecting the eight institutional artworks to be exhibited at NorthSite Contemporary Arts as a feature exhibition of CIAF 2021.

Legacies Living On is dedicated to honouring and celebrating the continuing legacy of the late great abstract painter Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori who in her 80s, inspired the current group of exhibiting Kaiadilt artists – Amy Loogatha, Elsie Gabori, Dolly Loogatha, Betty Williams, Agnes Kohler, Ethel Thomas, Amanda Gabori and Dorothy Gabori - towards their successful artistic careers; depicting the skies, rocks, birthplaces and Country of Bentinck Island through vibrant acrylic paintings.

In dialogue with Lardil contemporary artists Joelene Roughsey, Roxanne Thomas, Renee Wilson and John Williams. These collaborative works continue to paint and depict Lardil Dreaming and pay homage to the late Lardil artist Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey and his rich artistic legacy. The exhibition shows that the abiding influence of the two Elders, centered on deep ties to Country, is stronger than ever and their ground-breaking work underpins the creativity of the MIArt studios.

The exhibition reflects the MIArt studio environment which is a place of shared culture and creativity and a place where stories are told and memories are kept alive. Joyful and exuberant most of the time, but tinged with the sadness of personal and family histories. The land is the location as much as it is the heritage and the abiding subject matter of the artists. These artists confidently tell their stories about their families’ deep-rooted connections to the ‘old people’. This results in works of outstanding beauty and clarity, because culture is strong and central to everything.

A memorial tribute to MIArt’s much-loved senior artist, the late Ethel Thomas, features a collaborative painting by Ethel and her sisters, Amy Loogatha, Dolly Loogatha and Elsie Gabori. It honours Ethel’s lasting contribution to the cultural expression and MI Arts movement, and is a shining testament to the enduring legacies of great Elder artists from this region.

This exhibition is coordinated by Bereline Loogatha, Gallery Manager at Mornington Island Art Centre and Art Centre Manager John Armstrong, with NorthSite Contemporary Arts Curator Aven Noah Jnr.

Main image credit: Amanda Jane Gabori, Dorothy Gabori, our Mother’s country. Image: MI Art

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IACA programs and events receive financial assistance from the Queensland Government through the Arts Queensland Backing Indigenous Arts initiative, from the Federal Government’s Ministry for the Arts through the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program, the Australia Council for the Arts and Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund - an Australian Government initiative. IACA supports the Indigenous Art Code.

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