Practising Art – a Guide to DAAF 2021 Works on Paper

Art fairs can be amazing places to see a comprehensive snapshot of contemporary art practice in a given area. But for the unseasoned, it can also be incredibly overwhelming.

Fear not art lovers! Over the next few months, we’ll be giving you a comprehensive art guide to this year’s digital Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, so you can hit the ground running with the knowledge of a seasoned art buyer. 

We’ll break things down practice by practice – looking at everything from painting to printmaking, weaving to wearable art – introducing you to some of the key regions, Art Centres and artists you can catch at the fair who are true masters of these mediums.  

Today, we explore the wonderful world of works on paper. These kinds of works tend to sit at a more accessible price point, making them a great option for new or young buyers. But that doesn’t make the medium any less exciting, dynamic or important!

Words by Camilla Wagstaff. 

Moa Arts: Fiona Elisala Mosby 

Beautifully executed limited-edition lino prints, etchings and other works on paper have firmed up a solid reputation for Moa Arts, an Art Centre on Mua Island in the western island cluster of the Torres Strait. Moa artists also create woven baskets, bags and traditional jewellery.

Moa’s lino prints and etchings draw on Mualgal ancestral stories, translating them in excitingly innovative ways. Fiona Elisala Mosby is one such innovator. This expressionistic printmaker works with monoprints made from acetate stencils. Usually creating between eight and ten prints from each stencil, the works slowly transform and soften as they develop. Mosby’s work was selected for the exhibition Longwater; Fibre Stories at Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art in August 2020.

Reveal, Fiona Elisala Mosby, Ink on paper. 2021, 56cm x 76cm, Photo Kara Bosun and Moa Arts

Djilpin Arts: Frankie Tango Lane

With artists working on Country with kin across generations, the works coming out of Djilpin Arts are rich in spirit, bringing healing to the community and linking traditional knowledge with modern enterprise. Based in the remote Indigenous community of Beswick/Wugularr in the Northern Territory, the Art Centre was established in 2002 by the late actor and musician Balang T.E. Lewis.

Senior Mayali man Frankie Tango Lane has lived most of his life at Beswick. A founding member of Djilpin where he has served as a director for many years, Frankie is master of Mago (West Arnhem didjeridu) and also works on paper, canvas and local timbers. A master of many mediums, Frankie has also produced designs for bronze, textiles and print for Djilpin’s renowned Gapu series.  

Flying Foxes. Gapu VII, Frankie Tango Lane, Beswick, Etching on paper, 2016, 36×40, Photo courtesy of Peter Eve.

Ngaruwanajirri Incorporated: Jane Margaret Tipuamantumirri

Founded in 1994 at the Keeping Place Wurrumiyanga, Bathurst Island, Ngaruwanajirri is a Tiwi word meaning “helping one another”. The Art Centre workshop was set up to provide a supportive and safe space for artists with a disability to come and create their own individual and very inspiring art.

Since starting with Ngaruwanajirri the same year the Centre opened its doors, artist Jane Margaret Tipuamantumirri has been creating the most delightful works on paper, canvas and silk. Drawing inspiration from her local surroundings, common subject matter in Jane’s works include magpie geese, fish, tunga (bark basket), pamijini (arm band) and jilamara (designs) inspired by the painted ceiling of the Keeping Place where the artist creates.

 Jilamara, Jane Margaret Tipuamantumirri, Ngaruwanajirri Incorporated, Watercolour on Saunders Waterford Paper 638 gsm, 2020, 575-510 mm Photo courtesy of Ngaruwanajirri Incorporated.

Injalak Arts: Gabriel Maralngurra

Injalak artists create nationally renowned screen prints, woven pandanus baskets, sculptures and paintings that celebrate the rich cultural continuum and stories of West Arnhem Land.

Artist Gabriel Maralngurra is one of the founders of Injalak Arts and a current co-manager. Painting at the Art Centre since 1989, Gabriel’s practice is reflected in the breadth and depth of the subjects he paints, his fluent linework and highly original compositions. Behind his tireless experimentation is an unmistakably confident and fluid style that balances studied naturalism with a strong sense of style.

Paper Gabriel Maralngurra, Acrylic on Arches paper, 2020, 76 x 102 cm, Photo courtesy of Injalak Arts & Crafts Aboriginal Corporation.

Badu Art Centre: Joseph Au

The artists of Badu Art Centre use a range of visual and creative mediums in their works, including bronze and aluminium casting, painting, jewellery and textiles. But they have become especially well known for their printmaking practices, especially lino cut prints, a medium that connects to the island’s traditional practices of carving.

Badu printmaking sees designs carved into a surface and used to create prints, with the raised areas becoming a mirror image of the parts that show printed. Badu prints are rich in detail and reference the island’s beautiful surrounds, as well as the artist’s deep connection to a rich and diverse local culture. 

Artist Joseph Au is one of the founders of the Badu Art Centre and together with Laurie Nona and Alick Tipoti. Joseph is a master carver of wood and shell, a technique that has leant itself well to lino print making. Joseph acknowledges that he is still learning lino techniques and asserts that there is always an opportunity to learn more.

Joseph Au, Skull Dhibihib, Coloured Etching, width 27.5cm x height 40cm 2020, Image credit Badu Art Centre.


More to come from the ‘Practising Art’ series as we delve into the exciting mediums and artistic practises of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists who you’ll find online at DAAF this August 6-11 2021!

Be sure to check out this year’s program and incredible list of over 70 participating Art Centres: 

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