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May 16, 2021

Exhibition celebrates artefacts’ return

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Digby Moran, The Rocks (2012), one of the works on show at Grafton Regional Gallery as part of ‘Return to Country’.

Arts Northern Rivers, in partnership with Grafton Regional Gallery, has announced the opening of an exhibition of new works by 12 leading male Bundjalung artists.

‘Return to Country’ has been inspired by the acquisition of three traditional Bundjalung clubs dating back to the mid 1800s as an addition to Grafton Regional Gallery’s collection.

The exhibition brings together artists from across the Bundjalung nation that have found inspiration in these significant Aboriginal artefacts.

Their works explore the stories, mark making and interpretation of ancient designs, and examine what it means to be a Bundjalung man and the connection to country.

Arts Northern Rivers CEO Peter Wood said, ‘I am delighted that Arts Northern Rivers has been able to work in partnership with Grafton Regional Gallery to help realise this important exhibition’.

‘The return to country of these artefacts has created a great sense of anticipation and excitement throughout the Bundjalung nation, leading to the development of an application for project funding that will, if successful, see the re-invigoration of traditional Bundjalung mark-making techniques and future exhibitions.’

Arts Northern Rivers Indigenous arts development officer Robert Appo agreed, saying, ‘This exhibition showcases some of our finest Bundjalung artists, all of whom have used the return of these clubs as the inspiration for their work. There is great potential to see this grow into an important project for Indigenous artists in the northern rivers region.’

Return to Country opens at Grafton Regional Gallery on Friday 25 May, on the eve of National Sorry Day. Members of the public are invited to attend a floortalk at 5.30pm presented by Robert Appo, curator of the exhibition.

A further program on Tuesday 29 May consists of a talk about the Three Bundjalung Boondies and other Bundjalung artefacts by Marcus Ferguson, Aboriginal sites officer with the Jalia Land Council, in addition to a guided tour of the exhibition by Robert Appo.

‘Return to Country’ includes paintings by Charlie Caldwell, Digby Moran, Eric Ferguson, Jai Walker, Joey Davis, Luke Close, Marcus Ferguson, Michael Philp, Oral Laurie, Oral Roberts, Ray Roberts and Scott Rotumah.

Grafton Regional Gallery is located at 158 Fitzroy Street, Grafton, and is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm. The exhibition continues until Sunday 1 July.

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