Soakages Sequel Exhibition | 16th Sept - 12 Nov 2016
"Long time ago we been get kwaty water under the caves.
...'Still kwaty there; under the caves in the hill."
Soakages Sequel showcases a new collection of Utopia elder Lena Pwerle's work, one year after Soakages - the original solo exhibition.
Kwaty ngenty (Soakages)
Kwaty ngenty, or soakages, are a source of water in Australian deserts where water is found below ground, sometimes as part of an ephemeral river or creek.
When rain has been plentiful, water can pool above ground and soakages can be found to be as a big as a lake. Other times, reeds can be used to sip water from beneath the sand, or long grass or buckets to transfer water from deep rock holes.
Soakages were once the main water supply for desert Aboriginals. When growing up, Lena Pwerle's people travelled by foot, frequently moving and camping across their country wherever bush tucker and water sources were abundant.
Underpinning Lena's Soakage paintings is a map of soakage locations dotted across her country, Ahalpere, that she holds in her minds eye.
Lena remembers her grandmother teaching her where to find these soakges and is now one of few elders who still hold this knowledge.
Ahalpere country lies at the very heart of Utopia, a region situated just south of the Tanami Desert.
Australia's deserts are some of the driest in the world, but also the most temperamental with constantly fluctuating climates. When Lena grew up, she recalls the land was rich in growth and bush tucker was abundant.
Many soakages later became contaminated or dried up, and bush foods scarce, largely due to the introduced livestock from neighbouring stations. One soakage that has held water throughout the hard times lies beneath caves near a community called Apungalingum.
"Long time ago we been get kwaty water under the caves. Anaty, Tyape Antyematy...we been get them too, long time ago.
Big rock near Apungalingum; proper big one there. We get billy can and come back. And bush potato. Near that hill at Apungalingum. Still kwaty there, under the caves in the hill."
Big Soakage Dreaming
The largest painting Lena Pwerle has painted is Big Soakage Dreaming for private collection; it's name derived from both it's grand size (measuring a hefty 360cm x 180cm and completed over two solid weeks) and to pay homage to the large soakage near Apungalingum.
This piece was the inspiration for Soakages Sequel, where warm desert hues and watery undertones dominate the collection. Soakages overlap on one another as if they do beneath the ground, creating unexpected mixes of colours and fluidity that bring an edge to Lena's artwork.
Each exhibition piece imparts a deep cultural wisdom and has been chosen selectively to show off Lena Pwerle's individuality and tempt you to make one yours... Enjoy.
Exhibition artworks are no longer available. Please visit Lena Pwerle to view all current Lena Pwerle paintings.