There was the Surface Festival in Canberra that the company I work for was a major sponsor of and we headed down on Thursday to give away merchandise and speak to the artists. There was a short talk on Saturday in the afternoon to a small band of curious artists who wanted to know a little more about the Resene brand. We had a small team from Melbourne and Sydney with one of the Sydney team getting stuck in floods in Northern New South Wales which have been badly flooded. None of us knew our way around Canberra very well and it wasn’t until our last night there that we had a better understanding of the place. It was quite an interesting event with major walls being painted with exciting murals. It seems most of the art was centred around the newly developed area of Braddon with its blank apartment walls becoming centrepieces. There are many hip bars and places to eat in Braddon that attract a lot of people looking for a night out on the town. This attractive part of Canberra with its blank walls brought in young and old drinking, tagging, eating and some of the most graffitied walls have been taken over by some of the biggest names in graffiti from the capital of Australia. Other walls are entertaining stencils, indigenous art and big-name street artists up and coming and established. There was a little bit of downtime and I went to the National Gallery and saw a lot of Indigenous artwork old and new. There was a major Australian artist show on but I got caught up in the main collection and was happy to take in all of the collection I could. The artist who had the major show has had a few major shows over the decades and I have seen some in the past. What I enjoy about Indigenous art is the world of spirits that dwell in this country being depicted as most Europeans don’t have any interest in these types of things being anything other than superstition.
In Chinese culture this world of spirits is mapped in Feng Shui but it is also looked on as superstition. I find it quite genuine to see the indigenous artists bringing these spirits to life on bark before the 1980s as some tribes were still living on the land. Also it maps human experience and how poeple explain the world they live in. I feel like some of the more modern indigenous work I saw was more or less the same but took in their own experience of culture under the eye of Western values and sometimes a larger spiritual experience was expressed that left one awestruck.