Emily Kame Kngwarreye grew up in a remote desert area of Australia. Only starting painting at the age of 80, she produced an average of a painting a day for the next six years until she died. During this short career, she became acknowledged as one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists.
Aboriginal people have a very close connection to their landscape and believe that they have a responsibility to recognise and replicate the designs and patterns left within the landscape (Mca.com.au, n.d.). This close connection with the landscape and it’s patterns shows through in her work. Her painting are of her place and life, uninfluenced by the outside art world.
They are paintings, but with her use of strong lines and dots, they could equally be viewed as drawings.
Richard Long (1945-)
Thinking about other artists who use place with such an immersive passion, Richard Long is an obvious artist who springs to mind. His main body of work comes from walking, using materials found on the walk to make marks, or simply the action of walking too and from a point to create an impression on the ground. As Emma Dexter comments about his work in her introduction to ‘Vitamin D’, “the artist’s interventions reveal the earth as a surface or ground to be marked, etched, and scarred by the body as the instrument of drawing, taking the role of pencil or pen” (Dexter, 2005).
When the work is brought into a gallery, it often only exists as a photograph and/or words describing the walk, with Long describing the text works as “narratives of events and sculptures – walks – that I have made” (Long and Wallis, 2009). These interventions will be lost quickly as weather/nature erases them. When he produces sculptures, these are usually from sculptures created on location from nearby materials and then brought into the gallery, or mud and earth is used to create works on canvas or the walls.
Place is important in my own work, frequently recurring in my use of maps in drawing or sculpture, or as the starting the theme of my work. I guess it is an inherent theme in all artists work as it has such a strong influence on our lives.
Dexter, E. (2005). Vitamin D. London: Phaidon.
Long, R. and Wallis, C. (2009). Heaven and earth. London: Tate.
Mca.com.au. (n.d.). Emily Kame Kngwarreye. [online] Available at: https://www.mca.com.au/artists-works/artists/emily-kame-kngwarreye/ [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].