Artists represent Valley

BROTHERS and Aboriginal artists Phillip Narkle and Dennis ‘Noongali’ Kickett exhibited their art at Parliament in Canberra this week as part of a wider showcase of the Swan Valley.

Their selected artworks from the Yonga Boodjah Aboriginal Art Gallery in West Swan was packed up last week and sent to the Great Hall of Parliament, along with produce and wine from the region.

Kickett and Narkle’s art has been seen and admired across the globe but this will be the first time they will take it to the doorstep of Australia’s leaders.

Narkle was born at the Moore River Native Settlement Mission in 1944, while Kickett was born in York in 1953.

They were born to the same mother but had different fathers, connecting them to both shared and varying tribal boundaries, and artistic styles.

In 1991, they impressed crowds at Burswood with their first joint exhibition.

Narkle said they drew influences from their connections to land all across WA and used a mix of contemporary and traditional techniques in their paintings.

He first started painting nearly 50 years ago, following in his aunt’s footsteps as a landscape artist.

“It was when I started travelling for work that I was exposed to a range of different cultures that I began to expand my work.”

Now Narkle is one of the few artists in the southwest of Australia to use paperbark as a canvas: a traditional technique associated with Wadjuk Nyoongahs.

“Because of our connection to different places, like the central desert area, we can paint in other styles,” he said.

Narkle’s grandmother was taken from this region when she was 13 years old and taken to Moore River.

Kickett said they were limited in the works they could take over, but he sent some large pieces.

“The work I’m taking over mainly depicts the area where my grandparents and family are from,” he said.

“My grandfather came from Sandstone just south from Mount Magnet and most of my family are from York. I’m looking forward to it; I’ve never actually been to Canberra.”

In October, resident artists at the Yonga Boodjah Aboriginal Art Gallery will hold an exhibition at the QEII Mediac Centre to raise funds for cancer research.