Emerging Aboriginal artist and past John Fries Award finalist, Serena Bonson, successfully opened her first solo show at ALASKA Projects last month, selling two pieces to the Australian Government’s Artbank collection.
Wangarra is a collection of hand-carved figures that capture the story of the Wangarra spirit as told by her uncle Jimmy Angunguna, who also taught her the craft. Serena says her first solo exhibition was even more important as her uncle is in respite and she wants to continue sharing his story.
Serena has been carving Wangarra spirits for the past seven years. Each sculpture is made from raw materials she collects from her homeland in Maningrida on the shores of the Arafura Sea in the Northern Territory, helping to reflect her connection to country. They are hand-carved from stringy bark and painted with striking designs, often using natural pigments made from black charcoal and white clay.
Two of her sculptures, also both titled Wangarra, are now available through Artbank’s leasing program, which returns 100 per cent of leasing fees to supporting the arts.
The exhibition drew around 100 guests to its opening night at ALASKA Projects, a Sydney ‘Artist Run Initiative’ established in November 2011 to exhibit contemporary visual art in unused spaces. Their first project space, where Serena’s exhibition was held, is a former mechanic’s office in the basement of a carpark in Kings Cross.
Serena’s recent sales put her in the ranks of other emerging and contemporary Aboriginal artists like Jason Wing, Beryline Mung, Alair Pambegan and Vincent Namatjira, all of whom have gone on to have their artworks sold or commissioned after being a finalist in the John Fries Award. A work by Vincent Namatjira, the great-grandson of the famous landscape watercolourist Albert Namatjira, was acquired by the British Museum last year.
Serena Bonson’s exhibition was proudly supported by Maningrida Arts and Culture and the Copyright Agency | Viscopy.
Serena is currently exhibiting Wangarra Spirit Sculptures from now until 30 March at FireWorks Gallery in Newstead Queensland.