Murungkurr Terry Murray, Hayley Atkins, Doolmarria Louise Mengil
Murungkurr Terry Murray, Hayley Atkins, Doolmarria Louise Mengil - curating the Beijing send-off [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Murungkurr Terry Murray, Hayley Atkins, and Doolmarria Louise Mengil discuss the process of selecting works and curating the show for the Beijing send-off at the Perth Town Hall in 2008.
Art centre(s): CSR Project, Martumili Artists
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_197_Murunkurr_Terry_Murray_Hayley_Atkins_Doolmarria_Louise_Mengil
Location Recorded: William Street, Northbridge
Cultural Protocols: Public Access
Full transcript: [Can you describe the process of how you selected the paintings?] Doolmarria Louise Mengil: First of all we went, all three if us, as well as Wally assisting us, go through a whole lot of paintings and picked out most of our star paintings, which are the strongest paintings within the show, and we managed to pick out twenty odd works I think it was. Then we decide how it was going to look on the wall as well as the story, how it would interact and how we were going to put it up. Have you got anything to add to that Terry or Hayley? [What happened during the day?] LM: As the mini-launch exhibition for Beijing? We got to see the paintings for the first time stretched and our job for that day was to actually set up the exhibition and to give sort of an insight to the Australians and what it’s going to look like over in Beijing. It was a very long day. [How did you work out how to hang the paintings?] Murungkurr Terry Murray: Yeah, Hayley and Louise and I were trying to figure out how to make it really strong and eye catching to the public, and how it’s going to be hanging in Beijing. So it was, yeah, all day yesterday trying to put the balance of work, you know, from the nine different art centre about twenty artists and three big collaborative works, so it was … yeah, the help of Wally assisting. And just trying to make it really strong, how it’s going to be hanging in Beijing. [Can you explain the snake?] TM: Oh like, what Wally was saying about you can’t have the small work and a medium sized work and a large work because you call it the wedge, wedgie … from our mentor and overall curator was giving us a bit of insight on trying to make every work balanced and trying to make the show large work, medium work … balance of work, how to. LM: Give the audience basically a rhythm to what the works … how they sit on the wall. The colour difference as well, I mean you’ve got some paintings which have really dark, dull colours but are also strong, and then you’ve got these beautiful bright pink and purple and stunning bright colours that really bounce at you, so you’re trying to … it was really, really hard, I mean we’re trying to put all these paintings to sit with each other and most of them were very colourful, but then we had to balance it out and also have a special rhythm to the wall so we didn’t have audience getting bored, and making sure that we didn’t have two paintings with the same story on the wall, so it was a long process. Hayley Atkins: And how the painting all sits together. [Was it a bit stressful? Was there tension between you?] TM: Well, every time I wanted to hang a work, the girls started to complain and they had to bring it down and we had to try and … and I was asking them first and saying, ‘oh well it’s up to you’, but I was just pulling works and trying to … you know when you look through the gallery space, the entrance, you had to have the balance of work and the outside wall had to have that even line of … strength of how the colours, you know Louise was saying, the colours and the storyline. But, yeah, it turned out alright and we had to show the peace [piece?]. LM: Oh Hayley and I were okay, we were pretty much laid back. But then, like, as the day got later and we didn’t have all the works in place, it was really, really hard, it was very stressful then, wasn’t it? And then ‘cause we had short time as well to go and get ready and come back, so it was more of really tension, concentrating a bit more and … I call it the backbreaking, it was really hard, but we managed, we got together and we managed to get through it and … it turned out to be a stunning little exhibition. [How did you feel when you first walk in?] LM: Relieved and overwhelmed. I don’t know how you guys felt bu t… I thought it was amazing and just to see what it looks like there, I mean it’s not even a quarter of what we’re going to really hang, so to see those paintings hang beautifully in a space where it wasn’t much of a space is going to be amazing in the National Museum of Canberra in 2010, with all the other art works. How do you guys feel? HA: I feel really happy ‘cause how we worked really hard and played with all the paintings and putting it all together, and trying our best to make it work out and stand out. It worked. TM: I was, yeah, really fulfilled that throughout this project we are working as curators as Louise and Hayley and I had to hang the works, and when the gallery space was full, you know like most of these organisations and a lot of other … BHP sponsor and a lot of Government sponsor and people who are coming to the exhibition, had said who hang the show, who was involved in it? Yeah, they were really surprised to see us coming from different organisations, different art backgrounds, and how the young curator team and they were really excited that we were involved … with the FORM team. And yeah, I was really pleased about all those work we were hanging, and really gave their own strength. But it, you know, it’s just a quarter of the works that are going to Beijing, but the next two years we are still working on the bigger picture of this Canning Stock Route. [Were you surprised at how they looked stretched?] LM: Not so surprised, more excited. I mean, we always knew that they were going to be a beautiful piece in the end, but just excited to see exactly what they were going to look like when they were stretched, and they looked stunning. And, I must say, the vibe that we had within the exhibition was awesome. I mean it was very hard in hanging the paintings and, not only we had assistance with Wally but we also had assistance with the paintings, the art works. I mean, if it wasn’t the art works that were so strong it would have been too hard to be able to hang something and being able to have some art work a bit stronger than the others sort of played it all out as well. [How did you feel talking to people? Listening to speeches?] TM: Well for me I was, yeah, I was relaxed and just … had a good time and, like … like the young curating team, what we were saying, and Wally speaking on behalf of FORM and the Canning Stock Route Project was really … really excited that, yeah, I’m part of the team. LM: I was happy and moved. By the speeches as well as just … just about everything, the vibes, the hang, but most of all the speeches put the icing on the cake basically. TM: And yeah, Hayley had to steal the show because … yeah, just standing in front of everyone and I was really … really praising her on because I was just … you know, Hayley and I and Louise we’re on the ground with all this nine art centre and coming from … coming from a different organisation and expressing what we do, like, on the ground and professionally in hanging all this work, it’s come a long way and we have to show that we are part of history and part of what we do in our profession. [Hayley, how did you come up with the speech? (They talk about it)] HA: As I was on this Canning Stock Route trip and I learn a lot of things from old people that was talking to me and telling me all these Dreamtime stories and … ‘cause I didn’t know, I don’t know what they was painting and I didn’t know anything really ... I was learning from them. And, learning how they survived in the desert and dancing and keeping their culture strong and I wanted to tell the audience about that, our background, Aboriginal people and how we related to that land. They painting stories about their great, great grandfather’s Country, their dreaming and keeping it strong and important to the younger generation, like us. I was happy to get up and talk for the whole nine art centres because we all in one talking about the canning stock route. [Talking about Hayley’s ‘one voice’ line] LM: Yeah, we all come together and have one big voice, carry one big voice. That was mind blowing, yeah, that was amazing. But you could tell it wasn’t a speech written up, you could tell it was deeper than that, it was something … you could tell her connection within the art centres, within the people and … it’s great that she was able to do it because there was no one else I’d rather actually … I would rather Hayley or Terry had the speech, I wouldn’t have wanted to do the speech ‘cause I’m actually learning from these two as well to how their traditional old people lived on their Country, it’s completely different to my background and it is great that she got up and spoke. It shows where she’s coming from. [Terry talking about the team and Beijing] LM: Watch out Beijing. TM: I like to say something. How the curating team and the camera crew team, I think it’s started to get stronger throughout from last year to 2010, to where the bigger picture’s gonna be even more stronger in our minds and our hearts are going to grow with this project and it’s going to be mind-blowing. And the Beijing Olympics is just a … LM: Tip of an iceberg TM: A little piece of the puzzle that’s going to bring wider audience to the bigger picture, but it is gonna be, history’s gonna speak for itself and the team is gonna get more stronger. And everybody else is gonna shout! LM: Actually there is one more thing terry, we didn’t acknowledge Tom [Putuparri Tom Lawford], he also assisted us. I mean, not all of us knew stories about each paintings and he assisted us with putting labels up to the right paintings, so that was the most important part as well. So thank you Tom. HA: And thanks everybody. END
Video format: DVD/MiniDV/Quicktime movie
Video recording: Tape 37
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Murungkurr Terry Murray, Hayley Atkins, Doolmarria Louise Mengil; © FORM, transcript only
Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.