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Red Air: Telling important cross-cultural stories through artist collaboration

RED AIR: One of the most exciting things about the studio practice at the The Beautiful and Useful Studio is the extraordinary collaborations that we have been part of over the last years. We love all of our collaborations, but one of our all time favourites was with the Warrie sisters from the Yindjibarndi Nation in the Pilbara. This project, also originally created with collaborator Maurice Goldberg, presented us with a very special and unique opportunity to combine our contemporary art practice with the art making techniques of an ancient culture.

Matthew Aberline, our creative lead, actually did part of his growing up in the Pilbara, and so was delighted to develop an idea with sisters Sharon and Kaye Warrie from the Cheedith Art Centre that explored the landscape of his childhood with First Nations artists.

“We wanted to create something very ancient, but something very modern. We wanted it to be as much about the past, as the future of Australia. In many ways, the work became a dance between our studio and the Warrie sisters, with our work responding to their paintings in a call and answer way. We wanted the work to ask - what will our national identity be in the future?" says Matthew.

We decided to create our own paintings that responded to Sharon and Kayes artworks. Four sets of eyes, painting the spirit of our land from different cultural experiences. We then pushed the colours and textures to create intensity and contrast through the wonders of digital technology and the printing process. Finally we knew we wanted the inflated forms to capture the grasses and seed pods of the landscape and cut a strong sharp silhouette during the day, and become enormous lanterns as night.

The finished work featured a collage of the Warrie Sisters and GAS’s works, imagined into impossibly large shapes across four inflatable artwork forms. The work premiered at the Enlighten Festival in Canberra - a test flight in which over 80,000 people interacted with the work in a two week window.


Photos of the Warrie Sisters by Chris Gurney Courtesy of Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation

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