BEECHWORTH Arts Council president Jamie Kronborg believes powerful new artworks by Nina Machielse Hunt represent a distinctive change – and evolution – in the Woolshed Valley painter’s depiction of the landscape.
Mr Kronborg opened Ms Hunt’s ‘Wild in the wind’ – a solo feature in the Arts Council’s ‘Spring Arts’ month-long program – at a packed reception in Beechworth’s Old Stone Hall Gallery on Saturday evening.
The oil on linen works which comprise the new collection follow the painter’s successful show in 2016 at Wodonga Art Space with her exhibition ‘Bushranger’ – much of it centred on the light Wooragee and brooding Woolshed landscapes.
Some of these earlier and other works were later shown in a North East artists’ group exhibition at Benalla Art Gallery.
Ms Hunt said she drew inspiration from the Woolshed where she lives with her husband, Bill, and two children.
The ‘Wild’ landscape paintings build on this but also tap rock art depictions by the North East country’s first peoples at Yeddonba in what is now Chiltern-Mount Pilot national park.
The shelters are off Beechworth-Chiltern Road – places of tribal boundary convergence for Minjambuta, Dhudhoroa and Bpangerang peoples.
Mr Kronborg said archaeologist Ben Gunn in in 1981 and 1987 conducted interpretative studies of the Yeddonba works, which he estimated to be at least 3500 years old and which show thylacine – Tasmanian tigers – in what are now known to be two separate shelters.
Dr Gunn later went on in 2002 to study the rock art of ‘Mudgeonga-2’ – a rock shelter complex near Myrtleford.
He found that over time – perhaps thousands of years – the abstracted motifs at Mudgegonga had changed, with solid replaced by linear form and the size of them from larger to smaller and a decrease in geometry.
He argued that Aboriginal art was generally homogenous, and a reduction in scale could be interpreted as reflecting a change in the function of the art – from one for public viewing to more of a private statement.
Mr Kronborg said Ms Hunt’s work was also changing, and perhaps for similar reasons – for she was depicting the landscape in a distinctly intimate way compared with her paintings in earlier exhibitions.
The exhibition, at which Wiradjuri artist Tammy Campbell welcomed guests to country on behalf of the traditional custodians, is open until Sunday (November 26).