Yidumduma Bill Harney: Bush Professor

On the barmy evening of October 27th, Yidumduma Bill Harney’s Bush Professor opened at the Barossa Regional Gallery.

This incredible retrospective exhibition reveals the work of Yidumduma Bill Harney who is one of the last initiated men of the Wardaman people. Hailing from the Northern Territory, Harney, now 85 (well he thinks he’s there abouts!), is a beautiful storyteller who is passionate about sharing his culture with the world.

Bush School (2007)

Viewers are instantly hit with the striking imagery presented in Harney’s paintings. Accompanying each work is a description of the depicted narrative which makes for a fascinating lesson in Wardaman culture. Harney’s mother and stepfather played an integral role in his life, teaching Harney about the Wardaman way. They also imparted the stories that are connected to the ancient rock art seen on their land.

The deep, natural colours shown in Harney’s art fill the viewers with appreciation for the Australian landscape. For unfamiliar onlookers, the work provides a window into the soul of our country. Some pieces even smell like the bush like the beautiful Lirrmingining Grasshopper Men (pictured below) which is created from bark, natural pigment, vegetable fibre and feathers on wood.

Lirrmingining Grasshopper Men (2007)

Lirrmingining Grasshopper Men tells the story of the Grasshopper People. “In the Dreamtime they travel around in groups doing ceremony, dancing and weaving things. They taught people decoration for the body and really special one for the headdress. They’re all Wardaman but the way they wear the headdress, that tells you which totem, but they’re all Wardaman.” – Bill Harney 2011

It’s such a privilege to be able to see work of this nature in person. Harney is a captivating communicator and Bush Professor narrates stories to us and brings Wardaman culture to the forefront of our minds.

Bush Professor will run at the Barossa Regional Gallery until Monday, November 27, 2017.

Opening times: Everyday, 11am – 4pm

Location: 3 Basedow Road, Tanunda SA 5352

Website: barossagallery.com

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