A Newcastle Art Gallery exhibit that featured artwork never before seen outside the Torres Strait was announced this week as the winner of the Indigenous Recognition Promotion Award at the National Local Government Awards.
Newcastle Art Gallery’s WARWAR: The Art of the Torres Strait, an exhibition running from May to August, focusing on the culture of Torres Strait Islanders (TSI) and its launch coincided with the raising of the TSI flag at Town Hall for the first time in the building’s 92 year history.
Newcastle Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the national recognition of the historic exhibit recognizes the importance of connecting with local communities and raising awareness of culture through art.
“WARWAR: The Art of the Torres Strait has spanned four years and we are delighted that the most significant First Nations exhibition project in the 64-year history of the Newcastle Art Gallery has received this national accolade,” said Cr Nelmes.
“To further strengthen our city’s ties with the local TSI community, we hoisted the TSI flag at City Hall for the first time in a special ceremony the week before the exhibition opened, and it now stays there permanently. “
“Visitors from all over Australia have come to Newcastle specially to see this important exhibition for our city.”
Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton was delighted that the popular exhibition had received a national accolade.
“Having recently won the Museums and Galleries NSW IMAGINE Award from industry peers, we are more than delighted and very grateful to have now been recognized nationally for this incredible exhibition project.
“With over 130 works of art, many from major Australian institutions and the Torres Strait Islands that have never been on public display before, the exhibition has provided an incredible opportunity for our local TSI community and visitors. to discover and gain a new appreciation and understanding of TSI culture here in Newcastle.
The award-winning WARWAR: The Art of Torres Strait was developed in collaboration with highly-awarded Torres Strait Islander artist and curator Brian Robinson, local artist and traditional performer Toby Cedar and timed to coincide with important dates such as the day of Mabo, the day of reconciliation, upcoming Light Week and NAIDOC.
The exhibit, which was presented in English languages, Kala Lagaw Ya (Western TSI) and Meriam Mir (Eastern TSI), showcased the evolution and strength of Torres Strait Islander tradition and society across 19th century art practitioners and the emergence of contemporary contemporary art traditions, and explored issues of cultural maintenance, Christianity, language and the impact of globalization on the environment physics of the Torres Strait Islands.
A partnership with the local TSI community and Newcastle University gave visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in an innovative augmented reality experience and educational space design that shared important cultural traditions such as language and the connection of the Torres Strait Island with land, sea and sky. The title of the exhibition, WARWAR, is a traditional East Island word in the Meriam Mer language, which translates into English as “marked with a pattern.”
The National Local Government Awards recognize the best achievements of Australian local governments and spotlight innovative and resourceful solutions implemented by local governments that are making a difference for their local communities. A full list of the 2021 award winners is available online at www.infrastructure.gov.au
Image: WARWAR: The Art of Torres Strait Newcastle Art Gallery Opening Event May 29, 2021