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Sun & Shadow : Art of the Spinifex People - John Carty

Sun & Shadow

Art of the Spinifex People

By: John Carty

Hardcover | 27 March 2023

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Making history visible through one of the most vibrant and distinctive art movements in Australia, this book illuminates the community drive and the individual artistic decisions that have resulted in a body of breathtaking paintings.

The Spinifex people have been living on their ancestral homelands in the Great Victoria Desert, Western Australia since time immemorial. This continuous narrative was interrupted momentously by the Maralinga atomic testing in the mid-20th Century. But after returning to their homelands, Spinifex people began to fight for greater recognition. Painting made their story visible.

Over the past 25 years they have developed unique modes of painting to express their communal identity and history. Born of the need to present evidence in Native Title contexts, Spinifex painting has a unique political history and visual tradition that marks it out as a singular art history in Australia - but one that also sheds light on the broader histories of Aboriginal art.

The history of the Spinifex people and their unique contribution to Australian art history remains largely unheralded.
Featuring stunning reproductions of significant paintings and insightful essays by experts and friends of the artists, this publication positions the Spinifex people as major figures in the Australian historical and art-historical landscape.

About the Author

John Carty is the Head of Humanities at the South Australian Museum, and Professor of Museum Studies at the University of Adelaide. He has worked extensively with Aboriginal artists and custodians across Australia in producing pioneering books and exhibitions. Some key publications include Balgo- Creating Country (2021) and Ngaanyatjarra- Art of the Lands (2012). He has worked with the Spinifex artists since 2011.

Luke Scholes is a research fellow at Deakin University. Between 2015 - 2021 he was the curator of Aboriginal art at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. During this time, he curated the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards. He has curated multiple award-winning exhibitions including Tjungunutja- from having come together (2017) and the moment eternal- Nyapanyapa. Yunupingu (2020) and written extensively about Aboriginal art.

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