Men Of High Degree: Barney Campbell Tjakamarra
01 September - 31 December 2018
This exhibition on Barney Campbell Tjakamarra is part of a series titled "Men of High Degree", that look back at some of the works of some extraordinary male aboriginal artists who leave an indelible legacy upon the history of 'Indigenous Art'. In these works he did for Gallery Gondwana, Barney paintings document some of the most important aspects of his life.
In this show “Men of High Degree” series of exhibitions we present a selection of paintings by Barney Campbell Tjakamarra, who was one of Gallery Gondwana key artists in the late 1990 to early 2000.
His legacy of paintings document some of the most important aspects of his life. As a senior law man and elder, Barney had the right to paint the Tingari Cycle stories. These song cycles / creation stories form part of the teachings of the initiated youth, providing the basis for contemporary customs.
A senior law man and revered elder, Barney’s country cover some 150 km around the Lake MacDonald region, an area that encompasses many salt lakes and wells both east and west of Kintore.
Many of the stories relate to the sacred sites around the Lake MacDonald area. These creation stories tell of the epic journey of the ancestors, the Tingari Men and Women who travelled through the land in the Dreamtime (Tjukurrpa) creating particular sites and teaching Aboriginal law.
To the casual observers, these works are powerful representation of aboriginal art, but to the initiate they are much more, telling unrevealed stories of secret and sacred practices.
Barney Campbell was introduced to Gallery Gondwana by Dr George Tjapaltjarri Ward, the famous ngankari (traditional healer), who asked us to provide a space for him to retreat to and to paint whilst he was undergoing dialysis.
Barney was a very noble man, who kept very much to himself, often heard singing softly whilst he painted. At the time he was overshadowed by the strong personalities of Dr George and Mitjili Napanangka with whom he shared the Artist Studio along with the gentle and quiet Dorothy Napangardi. It was a special period in the Gallery Gondwana history where a group of artists of significance came together to share a space and paint.
Barney found solace in his work in the gallery, whilst attending dialysis in Alice Springs (this was before treatment was possible out bush). During this time, most of his works he painted were kept aside, in preparation for an exhibition. When Barney was to pass away due to kidney failure, his works were put aside in respect on his passing.
Now years later, Gallery Gondwana have started to unpack these works and are struck by their power and elegance. These works are very traditional, yet quite individual, as we remember and honour a man and his legacy.
Barney Campbell Tjakamarra painting of the Tingari Cycle (2005)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following
contains images of people who are deceased.
We are Gallery Gondwana are privileged to have known and work with Barney and calling him friend. Sometimes he would come in, hair red with ochre, having just been out bush for ceremony. On many occasions, we would hear him sing in language, immersed in the ritual of painting his creation stories.
Following are some images of Barney during his time with Gallery Gondwana.