University of Western Australia: Exploring Indigenous printmaking and history

A new exhibition from The University of Western Australia’s Berndt Museum collection brings together a diverse display of printed works by Indigenous artists to explore the nature of printmaking.

Inhabiting the Trace, at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, explores the processes of revisiting, reworking, and retelling while conveying traces of other forms – artwork, archive, story, memory and country.

Layers of ink, marks and impressions and dialogues between artists, across generations, engage with the past as an ongoing material presence.

Artworks featured include printed works by Peter Cameron, Paddy Carlton, Queenie McKenzie, Brett Nannup, Laurel Nannup, Lena Nyadbi, Ngarralja Tommy May and Mervyn Street, as well as The Berndt Etching Series (2008) – a series of 27 prints by artists from the Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre that were made to honour the 1946-1947 Yirrkala crayon drawings.


The exhibition, curated by Palyku woman Jessyca Hutchens, also delves into histories of printmaking, exploring the ongoing collaborations and shifts to artistic practice brought about by artists and art centres working with printmaking techniques from the 1990s onwards.

“Inhabiting the Trace looks at the significant print work of many artists, and the expansions to practice, collaborative relationships, and intergenerational knowledge elicited through Indigenous print-making processes and histories,” Ms Hutchens said.

The Berndt Museum holds one of the most significant collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultural material globally, containing more than 12,000 items and over 35,000 photographs.

In January 2021 the Berndt Museum transitioned to the UWA’s Indigenous Education Portfolio, led by Professor Jill Milroy, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Education.

The museum continues to be a diverse and integrated ‘Living Collection’, offering a range of services to ensure that it is accessible to Indigenous communities and researchers within Australia and globally.

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