Touring exhibition opens at YAM

Alison Williams, Sticks ‘n’ Stones, 2022, mixed media on linen.

A POWERFUL and compelling artwork which speaks to Indigenous deaths in custody will headline a special exhibition hosted by City of Coffs Harbour.

Saltwater Freshwater Arts 2023 will be officially opened by Deputy Mayor Cr Sally Townley at Yarrila Arts and Museum (YAM) today.

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This is a biennial touring exhibition which celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture from the NSW Mid North Coast, showcasing contemporary works and cultural objects from 31 artists from the Gumbaynggirr, Worimi, Biripi and Dunghutti nations.

Presented by YAM in partnership with Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance, the $5000 art award winner is Alison Williams.

“The work which had a real physical presence in the gallery space was Alison Williams’ mixed media Sticks ‘n’ Stones which provided a visual representation of Black deaths in custody and the criminal justice system,” guest curator and proud Wiradjuri woman Catherine Croll said.

“We used similar criteria when awarding a Highly Commended to Rachel Cross for her painting ‘Our Elders’, which explored the interrelationships between elders, teachers, knowledge and memories, and Zoe Golding for her drawing ‘We walked to the other side of the world’, which examined the sense of not belonging and drifting in the space between two worlds.”

City of Coffs Harbour City Planning and Communities Director Chris Chapman said the exhibition at YAM is rich in local connection.

“Two of the featured artists – Lilly Clegg and Josie Atkinson-Flanders – have created works for the Yarrila Place Public Art Trail,” Mr Chapman said.

“There is also a Coffs link with the Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance opening The Gallery on Park Avenue last year.

“This space provides a platform to support Aboriginal artists from across the region.”

The touring exhibition is funded through Create NSW, and it will hit YAM after shows at Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-Operative, Wadjar Regional Indigenous Gallery, Manning Regional Gallery and the Glasshouse Port Macquarie.

The exhibition at YAM will run from 8 June to 28 July.

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