Indigenous art from the AIATSIS collection: Likan'mirri II
8 Nov – 16 Dec 2012
This exhibition presented art from the collection of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). Many of the works held by AIATSIS are extremely rare and of major historical and cultural significance. The collection includes paintings, drawings, photographs, posters, sketchbooks, and three-dimensional objects such as sculptures, bark baskets, ceremonial objects, and weavings.
AIATSIS was established in the early 1960s by an Act of Parliament. One of the Institute's goals is to develop, maintain and preserve well-documented archives and collections, and to maximise access to these materials, particularly by Indigenous people, by respecting appropriate cultural and ethical practices. Anthropological as AIATSIS' initial agenda was, many of the individual collectors involved in its early years were motivated by a passionate appreciation of the enduring qualities of indigenous society, and this is reflected in the richness of the Institute's vast collection.
This exhibition followed on from the exhibition Likan'mirri – Connections that was exhibited at the Drill Hall Gallery in 2004 and showcased a selection of key art pieces from the AIATSIS collection. For Likan'mirri II, guest curator Wally Caruana revisited this wonderful resource to make a selection of recently-acquired works which are contextualised by rare works from the AIATSIS archive that are of major historical and cultural significance. As with the 2004 exhibition, many of the works included in Likan'mirri II had never before been on public display.
Likan'mirri II was presented by NCIS in association with the Drill Hall Gallery, and was a collaborative project of AIATSIS. The exhibition was officially openened by Mr Russell Taylor, Principal of AIATSIS.
Likan'mirri is a Yolgnu (eastern Arnhem Land) term with a range of meanings from 'elbow' or 'the fork in a tree', to more spiritual connotations such as the connection between the secular and sacred worlds.
The theme of connectedness has inspired both exhibitions. Professor Mick Dodson – AIATSIS Chariman and NCIS Director – has described the AIATSIS objects and works of art collection as an integral part of the continuing story unfolding through connections between ancient and modern Australia, and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.