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Floating Life: Contemporary Aboriginal Fibre Art

Pedro Wonaeamirri Tunga (Bark basket) Pwoja-Pukamani body paint design 2006

Pedro Wonaeamirri | Artist | Tiwi people NT b.1974 | Gerard Tipiloura | Tunga maker | Tiwi people NT b.1953 | Tunga (Bark basket) (Pwoja-Pukamani body paint design) 2006 | Natural pigments on stringybark with bark fibre string | 77 x 74 x 38.5cm (diam.) | Commissioned 2006. | Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © Pedro Wonaeamirri 2006. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2009

Banumbirr (Morning star poles) installed in ‘Floating Life: Contemporary Aboriginal Fibre Art’, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2009 / Bark fibre string, cotton, feathers, native beeswax, synthetic polymer paint, natural pigments on wood / From the Bandigan Morning Star and Queensland Art Gallery Collections
fullscreen | youtube



1 August – 18 October 2009 The Fairfax Gallery (Gallery 1.1), GoMA

‘Floating Life’ highlights the importance of fibre within Aboriginal culture and the commitment of the Queensland Art Gallery to developing a unique collection of more than 300 objects. Included are commissioned pieces by key artists as well as acquisitions from established and emerging talents. There are woven fibre pieces, three-dimensional works with connections to the objects, and paintings illustrating processes and stitches used.

Banumbirr (the Morning Star), water, and the notion of movement through time and place are major themes. Water defines pathways and points of connection in Aboriginal life and marks important creation sites associated with specific woven objects. Spirit figures, ceremonial poles, dance objects, body adornment and useful nets and traps — ranging from small and delicate to large-scale — reflect variations on tradition, whereas exciting contemporary explorations are embodied in the found materials used by Lorraine Connelly-Northey. An in-depth view of the work of artists such as Jonathan Jones, Gulumbu Yunupingu, Shirley MacNamara, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Lena Yarinkura and Alan Griffiths recognises their role in forging important new directions.

Public Programs

Sep/ Oct/ Nov programs

Gallery Talks
Gallery staff speak on themes and artists included in the exhibition. Please meet at the exhibition entry. Free, no bookings required.

2.00pm Sunday 6 September
Queensland basketry
Julie Ewington, Curatorial Manager, Australian Art

11.00am Thursday 10 September
Timothy Cook and Pedro Wonaeamirri
Bruce McLean, Associate Curator, Australian Indigenous Art

2.00pm Sunday 20 September
Lorraine Connelly-Northey
Bree Richards, Curatorial Assistant, Contemporary Australian Art

11.00am Thursday 24 September
String: Sacred and secular
Ruth McDougall, Curatorial Assistant, Australian Centre of Asia Pacific Art

2.00pm Sunday 4 October
Tasmanian shell necklace makers
Francis Parker, Curator, Contemporary Australian Art

11.00am Thursday 8 October
Fiona Foley
Angela Goddard, Curator, Australian Art to 1970

Tours for Kids

11.30am and 1.00pm Sundays until 18 October
Specially designed interactive tours for kids will guide children and families through the ‘Floating Life’ exhibition. Props and storytelling elements are incorporated, helping children make connections between art works and their own knowledge. Please meet at the information desk, GoMA. For more information on other Children’s Art Centre programs please click here.

Past programs

Curator's Tour
12.00pm Saturday 1 August
11.00am Thursday 6 August

Tour 'Floating Life' with Diane Moon, Curator, Indigenous Fibre Art. Please meet at the exhibition entrance. Gallery 1.1, GoMA.

Hearing-Impaired Tour
10.00am Friday 21 August

A volunteer guided tour of ‘Floating Life’ for hearing-impaired visitors.  Assistive listening devices are available.  As the number of devices is limited, bookings are essential. To book, please call the Education Bookings Office on (07) 3840 7255 between 8.30am and 4.00pm Monday to Friday or send an email.

Auslan Tour
3.00pm Sunday 30 August

An Auslan interpreted tour of ‘Floating Life’ for Deaf visitors.  Meet your volunteer guide at the information desk, GoMA.



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