Spirit in the Land

Dates & times

Thu 23 February — Sun 1 April 2012

Image: Russell Drysdale
The crow trap
1941, oil on fibro-cement panel. Newcastle Region Art Gallery, New South Wales. Gift of Dr Roland Pope, 1945.


In Western art, landscape has relatively recently become a subject in its own right and for many indigenous societies, the body has been the focus of their culture. However, Australia uniquely is a place where the land has been the all-absorbing subject for both indigenous and non-indigenous populations. Spirit in the Land explores the connection amongst eleven Australian artists, historical and contemporary, indigenous and non-indigenous, and their appreciation of and engagement with the spiritual ethos and power of the land.

The painters and sculptors included are: Lorraine Connelly-Northey, John  Davis, Russell Drysdale, Rosalie Gascoigne, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Dorothy Napangardi, Sidney Nolan, John Olsen, Lin Onus, Rover Thomas and Fred Williams.

Works have been selected for their thematic and metaphysic connections, such as the   visionary aerial perspectives of Dorothy Napangardi and Sidney Nolan and the notions of mapping seen in Rover Thomas’ desert paintings and John Olsen’s visual journeys. Fred Williams structures his paintings around the distribution of water which is echoed in the linear patterns of Emily Kngwarreye’s yam dreaming.   Lin Onus’ and John Davis’ works explore the interchange between indigenous and non-indigenous traditions and images. Russell Drysdale’s desert paintings testify to the power of this harsh land to defeat European settlement attempts while Lorraine Connelly-Northey’s and Rosalie Gascoigne‘s elegantly weathered and somewhat melancholy works evoke our recent pastoral history.

Curated by Robert Lindsay, Director, and Penny Teale, Senior Curator of McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park and is toured by National Exhibitions Touring Support (NETS) Victoria.


Updated:  7 January 2013/ Responsible Officer:  DHG Director/ Page Contact:  Drill Hall Gallery