The Cross Art Projects. Art Gallery, Sydney, Kings Cross, NSW. About us.


RISE 4: Women and water in the Djelk region

6 JULY — 17 AUGUST 2024

RISE 4 gathers works by artists from the renowned Maningrida Arts and Culture and Bábbarra Womens’ Centre, both Indigenous owned and located in a small township of saltwater and freshwater people in north-central Arnhem Land. The art centres have distinctive cultural and economic frameworks and media focus: one on painting and weaving the latter on hand-printed textiles. But the artists’ shared vision is to strengthen culture by resolutely enabling pathways to sustainable Indigenous development and employment.

This exhibition is the third in a series of exhibitions at The Cross Art Projects revealing the dynamism of contemporary art by women working in multilingual Maningrida, a remote township established in 1957. The Cross Art Projects presented Karrang Kunred / Mother-Land (2018), focused on three extraordinary women artists: Susan Marawarr, the late Mrs J. Wurrkidj and Deborah Wurrkidj with ancestry in the lower Mann-Liverpool Rivers area where Kuninjku language predominates. In general speech this country is referred to as the artists’ mother to show the abiding cultural connection to place.

A sister show Báb-barra: Women Printing Culture, held the year before, featured Susan Marawarr, sister to the celebrated artist John Mawurndjul, who collaborated with Waanyi artist Judy Watson on the exhibition Bush Colour, which toured the USA promoting female printmakers and supervising bark-painting workshops.

These collections of brilliant works illuminate how art centres have changed the narrative about the economic vulnerability of Indigenous women. This paradox of ‘unity in diversity’ is the focus of A/RISE, enhanced by hand-drawn lino or woodblock-printed textiles telling the life of the land and its crafts as well as ancestral stories, or djang/wangarr. The innovative variation in design reflects artists’ language groups and many different clans.

The revolution has many arms. The remarkable book and exhibition Aboriginal Screen-Printed Textiles from Australia’s Top End published by the Fowler Museum at UCLA (2020), showcased Bábbarra Designs as one of a small group of Indigenous textile-producing art centres that design, print and sew onsite in community.








Maningrida language map