Craig Edwards’ gift of art to the ANU, a concise yet spectacular sampling of which is currently on display at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery, is the most valuable donation of its kind yet given to an Australian university. It comprises 120 Western Desert paintings valued at over nine million dollars.
Craig Edwards, who is an alumnus of the ANU, began collecting in the mid-1990s, at a time when the first wave of Western Desert painting had achieved major international recognition. The painters of the first wave were mostly men, whereas the second wave, post-1995, saw the emergence of a cohort of senior women, most of whom had begun painting late in life, when they were already in their late 50s or 60s.The Edwards Collection is notably abundant in works by some of the most impressive of these women artists. Generally speaking, their paintings depict their ancestral country, the stories handed down by their mothers, the traditional sites of food gathering and places where ceremonies are performed.
Naata Nungurrayi, born in 1932, became the matriarch of a great family of Western Desert artists: she was sister to Nancy Ross Nungurrayi and to George Tjungurrayi (both also present in the Edwards collection). By all standards, Naata is one of the most highly regarded Western Desert painters of our time. Her works are given pride of place in State and National collections and in many important exhibitions. She is highly sought-after by private collectors: she was nominated among the top 50 of Australia’s most collectable artists by the Australian Art Collector magazine in 2004. The Edwards Collection – and now ANU – is stupendously rich in her work: 34 paintings in all.
“This is an incredibly rich and enduring resource for the Canberra community and for future generations of students, staff and visitors to ANU”, said Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian P. Schmidt. “These paintings will make a huge contribution in defining the whole tenor of the University environment. It is a historic and momentous gift.”
Anne Martin, Director of the Tjabal Indigenous Higher Education Centre at the ANU, has added:
“When the artists or their relatives, or people from their communities come to visit ANU and see the respect that is given to these art works, and when they recognise how these works have been made with such reverence and integrity of purpose, and how they have created such a powerful moment within our University space…I think those visitors will feel strengthened by the inspiration to continue and will understand the importance of sharing. This is not just a big donation – it is all about connection and sharing, and it has come from the heart. It is an enrichment to our community and it will impact on students and visitors to the campus for generations ahead”.
“Permeating the entire campus, the works of art Craig Edwards has given to the University will make a representation, a tapestry, a huge narrative of Country. Country is not just about the here and now – about the land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people. It’s also the lands that our students come from, where ANU academics have gone and walked with the local people, and the ancestral territory of the artists in the Edwards Collection, who demonstrate through their paintings the importance of the knowledge they are willing to share.”
WHAT: Western Desert Sublime - The Craig Edwards Gift Exhibition Opening
WHEN: 6pm Thursday 18 October 2018
WHERE: ANU Drill Hall Gallery, Kingsley Street (off Barry Drive)
CONTACT: Tony Oates for images and to arrange interviews:
02 6125 5832 Anthony.Oates@anu.edu.au / dhg.anu.edu.au
Artists in the Craig Edwards Collection
Queenie McKenzie: 1 work. Born circa 1915 Mingmarriya, East Kimberley, died 1998. Language: Gija.
Yinarupa Gibson Nangala: 1 work. Born circa 1955 near Jigalong, Western Australia. Language: Pintupi.
Esther Giles Nampitjinpa: 11 works. Born 1948 Mirtungkatja, Western Australia.
Languages: Ngaatjatjarra and Pintupi / Luritja.
Kayi Kayi Nampitjinpa (Barbara Reid Napangarti): 8 works. Born circa 1946 Tjukurla Region, Western Australia. Language: Ngaatjatjarra.
Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa (Mrs Bennett): 3 works. Born 1935 Mirtungkatja / Yumarra, Western Australia, died 2013. Languages: Pitjantjatjara, Ngaatjatjarra and Pintupi.
Tjawina Porter Nampitjinpa: 14 works. Born circa 1940 Yumarra, Western Australia. Language: Ngaatjatjarra.
Linda Syddick Napaltjarri: 2 works. Born circa 1937 Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay), Western Australia.
Languages: Pintupi and Pitjantjatjara.
Lorna Napanangka: 2 works. Born circa 1961 Haast Bluff, Northern Territory. Language: Pintupi.
Dorothy Napangardi: 1 work. Born circa 1950 Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay), Western Australia, died 2013.
Nyungawarra Ward Napurrula: 1 work. Born circa 1956 Karrku, Western Australia. Language: Ngaatjatjarra.
Ningura Napurrula: 5 works. Born circa 1938 Kiwirrkurra, Western Australia, died 2013. Language: Pintupi.
Jorna Newberry: 2 works. Born 1959 Angus Downs, Northern Territory.Language: Pitjantjatjara.
Mel Yamba Nungurrayi: 1 work. Born circa 1957 place unknown. Language: Pintupi.
Naata Nungurrayi: 34 works. Born circa 1932 Kumil, Pollock Hills, Western Australia. Language: Pintupi.
Nancy Ross Nungurrayi: 1 work. Born circa 1935 Maya, Northern Territory, died 2009. Language: Pintupi.
Tiger Palpatja: 1 work. Born circa 1920 Piltati, near Nyapari, South Australia, died 2012.Language: Pitjantjatjara.
Ray James Tjangala: 2 works. Born circa 1958 Yunala, near Kiwirrkura, Western Australia.Language: Pintupi.
Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri: 3 works. Born circa 1958 Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay), Western Australia.
Pinta Pinta Tjapanangka: 1 work. Born circa 1928 Yumari, Western Australia, died 1999. Language: Pintupi.
Wimmitji Tjapangati: 1 work. Born circa 1924 Kutakurtal, Western Australia, died 1997.Language: Kukatja.
George Tjungurrayi: 1 work. Born circa 1943 Kiwirrkura, Western Australia. Language: Pintupi.
Yannima Pikarli Tommy Watson: 27 works. Born circa 1935 Anamarapiti, Western Australia, died 2017.