07 June, 2006

Aboriginal Art Museum - Paris

Paris to showcase Indigenous art
By Sabra Lane for The World Today

Paris is set to introduce millions of people to the wonders of Australian Indigenous art.

On June 23, President Jacques Chirac will open the city's newest museum, the Musee du Quai Branly.

Tucked away near the Eiffel Tower, it is a multi-million dollar monument to non-Western art and it will permanently pay homage to Australia's Indigenous culture.

The museum commissioned eight artists to fill more than 2,500 square metres of the buildings ceilings, walls and facades.

Hetti Perkins, co-curator of the Australian Indigenous art component, says it is President Chirac's pet project.

"So you don't get any better credentials than that really," she said.

"What's wonderful for us as Australians is that the architect Jean Nouvel included in his winning proposal for the new museum the idea that Australian Indigenous artists only would make works that would become part of the permanent fabric of one of the buildings on the site," she said.

While there will be specific small pieces of art within the gallery, the walls and ceiling of the building have become a huge canvas, wrapped in images from the Dreamtime and more contemporary visions of Australia.

Ms Perkins says choosing the eight artists to work on the project was the hardest part.

"As we all know in Australia we're privileged to share in one of the world's most dynamic contemporary art movements as well as being inheritors of the oldest continuous cultural tradition in the world," she said.

Twenty-four hours a day, people will be able to marvel at work and be inspired.

Ms Perkins explains what some of it will look like.

"Tommy Watson's work is a series of enamelled stainless steel panels which have been fixed to the top floor ceiling, and his work's very expressive and bright, the colouring's very vivid, pinks and greens and yellows and whites, so in my imagination it's almost as if people are looking up to this building during the day or night, it's almost like a display of fireworks exploding in the sky of Paris," she said.

Gulumbu Yunupingu, 59, from Arnhem Land is a relative newcomer to art. She picked up her first brush just six years ago.

Her work has been replicated on a huge ceiling in the museum.

She says it is called Garak, which means "the universe", and was inspired by stories handed down through the generations.

"It's not for myself and my family but for everyone, we have this universe all around, this universe and it's amazing to see stars," she said.


australia links

Musee du Quai Branly
15, rue Jean-Baptiste Berlier, Paris, France
Tel: 01 56 61 70 00

URL: http://www.quaibranly.fr

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