Established in 2005, Mornington Island Art is a thriving aboriginal art centre located on Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The energy and activity within the centre (and possibly the isolation from mainland influences) results in work characterised by a vivid and colourful palette as well as semi-abstract and abstract lines, shapes and forms. Mornington Island emerging artists include Kaye Bush, Johnny Williams, Amy Loogatha and Dorothy Gabori. The forerunner of this movement was Sally Gabori (Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda) who recently passed away.
These artists, and others working with the centre, are making strong contemporary artworks, not just strong Aboriginal artworks. Though the boundary of indigenous and non-indigenous artwork is clouded and the stereotype of what Aboriginal art should look like is absent, Mornington Island artists are still heavily influenced and connected to the land and culture in their artistic interpretation.
Mornington Island came to the world’s attention with the Dick Roughsey and Percy Trezise series of childrens’ picture books in the 1970s, as well as through the dancers of Mornington Island with their unique conical feathered hats and powerful body painting for ceremonial dance, which was exhibited at the opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973. Aboriginal art such as this was ostensibly not on the western world’s radar at the time. Dot painting on canvas and raark (cross-hatching) on bark was gaining more momentum in other parts of Australia and making it big on the national and international contemporary art scene, but few people knew of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria than Mornington Island in the Gulf.
Today, the hustle and bustle within the art centre is captivating and exciting and the artists are constantly inspired by one another. They incorporate contemporary materials in to their practices while also reflecting on the past and the bonds between traditional culture and land.