In Residence... Gunybi Ganambarr and Regina Pilawuk Wilson
JamFactory has recently had the privilege of hosting two of Australia’s leading Aboriginal artists - Yolngu artist Gunybi Ganambarr and Ngan’gikurrungurr artist Regina Pilawuk Wilson - in a series of residencies.
Both innovators in their own artistic practice Regina and Gunybi have taken this opportunity to collaborate with JamFactory artists and studios to extend their practice in new directions.
Regina Pilawuk Wilson came to prominence in the contemporary art world in 2003 when she took out the general painting award at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards for her golden yellow work Syaw – Fish Net. Wilson is known for her colourist palette and vast abstracted paintings that translate the rhythmic patterns of the traditional weaving stitches she had practised for decades. In this residency she translates her beautiful woven sun mats in ochre paint and glaze on large platters thrown by Adelaide potter Mark Heidenreich.
As with her paintings, the impetus for Regina to translate her woven forms into ceramics is informed by her wish to preserve the material culture of her people by recording these objects in a more durable form.
Working collaboratively with Ashlee Hopkins, Regina will be producing a ceramic fish trap. To gain the woven texture, actual woven segments produced by Regina are pressed into the wet clay. Ochres are then rubbed into the impressed surface and scraped back to provide line work on the clay surface.
Reflecting on the collaboration Ashlee Hopkins notes Regina’s outlook has encouraged her to be confident and make bold moves. Ashlee states “I think I really was inspired by Regina's jump-to-it approach. Like a lot of people that work in ceramics, I'm always quite tentative to try something new or play with it, but Regina just says, "Okay," and then just started doing it. Regina reminded me that I could just jump in and try other things every now and then. I don't need to think about it as hard; just use the knowledge you've got to apply to something else.”
“I have also learnt a lot from Regina about her home and her community and where she's come from, and the historical context of her work, where it's come from and how that's grown within her practice.”
Gunybi Ganambarr is of the Dhuwa moiety and the Ngaymil clan of North East Arnhem Land. Mentored by many of the master artists of the region, Gunybi began his artistic career in painting on bark and the Larrakitj. As an innovator, he has not been constrained by these traditional forms, translating his sacred designs on an array of material including steel and conveyor belts, often detritus of the mining industry that scars his homeland. During his residency Gunybi has worked closely with Stephen Anthony, Head of JamFactory’s Furniture Studio, who has introduced new timbers such as River Red Gum for carving as well as sand blasting techniques into Gunybi’s mark making repertoire.
Gunybi is also working with JamFactory’s Jewellery/Metal Studio to introduce more industrialised processes of production into his artwork. The introduction of laser etching provides the opportunity to mix line quality – the hand engraved (with dremel) surface versus the precision laser, varying types of metal and the ability to work in serial. To begin the process, Gunybi drew a “cartoon” of a design that has been scanned to create files for laser etching.
Stephen Anthony has gained a lot of insight about his own practice whilst working with Gunybi as he states “In furniture design, we typically design on paper, and then we will go out and get the materials/wood that we need. In addition, when I am talking about pieces of wood, I know that I will take that piece of wood and cut it into exactly the shape that I want with machines. To watch Gunybi walk through the timber yard and see pieces of timber - you can see he was plotting out what they could be, without having to drastically change its form. His approach is so sympathetic to the material, a reminder that less is more.”
Gunybi Ganambarr and Regina Pilawuk Wilson will exhibit at JamFactory as part of TARNANTHI Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art from
12 October - 1 December 2019.