University of Western Australia: Kimberley artist to feature new work in Perth Festival show

A new exhibition featuring the powerful work of senior Walmajarri artist Sonia Kurarra will launch next month at the Lawrence Wilson Gallery at The University of Western Australia as part of Perth Festival.

The landmark exhibition Portals of Love and Loss: Sonia Kurarra reflects an intimate relationship with the Martuwarra (Fitzroy River) and its surrounding environment.

One of WA’s leading First Nations artists, Kurarra has been making work prolifically since the mid-1990s, painting the sandy billabong country along stretches of the Martuwarra.

Curator Emilia Galatis said Kurarra was one of the most successful living Walmajarri artists of the decade and had worked tirelessly to create magic on any surface.

The exhibition will feature newly commissioned work alongside key pieces that demonstrate the major themes of her practice, as well as recent experiments with leather, paper and Perspex.

Operating out of an aged care facility in Fitzroy Crossing, the painting program is supported by Mangkaja Arts. These works are also portals to persons lost and memories of a life before the facility, a lifetime of watching the river, where the rhythms of nature are encoded across every surface.

Just like the floodwaters of the Martuwarra, Portals of Love and Loss traces the cyclic natural rhythms of environmental expansion and contraction. When the floodwater is racing, the river is dangerous yet joyous and opulent. When the floodwaters recede, they create smaller repositories that hold a plentiful supply of parlka (barramundi), kurlumajarti (catfish) and bream.

Portal of Love and Loss: Sonia Kurarra will be on display at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery from Saturday 12 February to Saturday 23 April 2022. It is presented as part of Perth Festival and will be accompanied by a series of free talks, tours and public programs.

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