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Close-up photograph showing details of reddish-brown ochres, oxides and chalk  pigments sprayed onto a white wall

Robert Andrew
A connective reveal – nainmurra guuruburrii dhaura

Creation date: 2022 – ongoing Location: Gallery 12
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Robert Andrew, Yawuru people, A connective reveal—nainmurra guuruburrii dhaura, 2022-ongoing, commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra for the 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial: Ceremony, created in consultation with Dr Matilda House and Paul Girrawah House, Ngambri-Ngunnawal Traditional Custodians, purchased 2021.

Artist Robert Andrew on A connective reveal – nainmurra guuruburrii dhaura

Being in a place like this and looking around and stopping, it's doing its own thing all the time. I use a lot of the rocks and charcoal from bushlands and from bushfires around here, what's under foot, what's in hand.

There is a lot of technology – refined components that make the work move. I think a major part of my work is that interaction between those materials. I use a lot of local Indigenous language words, there's a lot of knowledges that's held within those words.

So the idea of unearthing histories and things like that, what I want to bring to the work is something that is creating like a new story, that has a new landscape, or a new environment or a new space and time and ideas of cycle whether it's on a day or whether it's a month or whether it's years or 10 years and even beyond that, that we don't see because we haven't lived long enough to perceive these.

It was a colonising tool, to use language, and take someone’s language away, and have the written word direct them. With the palimpsest works, I use either a Yawuru word or words that are connected to the Country the work is exhibited on. It’s part of that revealing of history, and uncovering.

‘Nainmurra guuruburrii dhaura’ (taking care of ceremonial ground) speaks to the idea of looking after Country, and part of that has ceremony in it. For the Traditional Custodians, it is the idea of looking after Country, and looking after Country is looking after self, because Country will look after you if you look after it. This idea attaches itself to ceremony, because ceremony is that idea of coming together to celebrate ideas around our own movement within time and within Country, and our understanding of ourselves and the Country that we’re on.

— Robert Andrew, 2021