Seven years ago, in mid-2005, the Aboriginal residents of the Old People’s Home on Mornington Island, Far North Queensland were invited to the island’s Art Centre to experiment with canvas and paint.
Sally Gabori, at 80 years old, had never picked up a paintbrush in her life but the work she made that day was unlike anything the Art Centre had ever seen.
Her first painting was an abstract composition in red, blue and yellow combining gestural expressive mark-making with an instinctive knowledge of negative space. It was a representational map of the Bentinck Island landscape she remembered from her youth – the country from which she and her family were removed by Missionaries in 1948 - and was the start of a creative outpouring that six months later would result in a sell-out show.
Sally Gabori’s career trajectory since then has been extraordinary. She is now one of Australia’s most sought after artists, and her work has been shown in galleries throughout Australia and around the world. Her paintings are in the collections of institutions including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris and the Chartwell Collection at Auckland Art Gallery. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the MCA (Sydney) and GOMA / Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane), as well as at the Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art in Utrecht and at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection at the University of Virginia. Most recently her work was seen in the 2012 Indigenous Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. This year Gabori was the winner of Queensland’s $50,000 Gold Award and the $15,000 Togart Contemporary Art Award.
Tim Melville is pleased to present Sally Gabori’s Dibirdibi Country.