Old stories, new light, Glasshouse Regional Gallery – Port Macquarie 2016

It is with great pleasure that the Glasshouse Regional Gallery presents Old Stories, New Light, an exhibition of recent works by Milton Budge and Blak Douglas. The exhibition continues the Glasshouse Regional Gallery’s commitment to presenting quality artistic experiences for our community and supporting contemporary Australian artists and Aboriginal culture.

This project like many started with a conversation, a passionate Blak Douglas described his idea of reconnecting with his Country (Dhungatti) and heritage by yarning with Uncle Milton Budge. I was excited with this idea and thought it was an important collaborative project to include in the Glasshouse Regional Gallery program.

In May this year Blak Douglas spent a week at the Glasshouse as an artist in residence, where he presented his captivation Adamriginal performance to a number of local primary schools and the Biripi Youth Group. During this week Blak Douglas spent time yarning with Uncle Milton Budge.

These conversations brought to the forefront the realisation that Uncle Milton was actually a true blood relative, revealing not only a connection to the family but also to Country, an illustration of creating a sense of place and belonging. Further to this, Blak Douglas sent time in the studio creating versions of Budge’s portrait. The portraits capture Budge’s likeness, connection to Country and colours. The portraits will feature in the exhibition, Old Stories, New Light.

Uncle Milton Budge has a number of works represented in the Port Macquarie – Hastings Council Art Collection. Budge’s paintings are created using a palette of soft pastel colours which at times seem at odds with the content of his work. His work depicts Dreamtime Stories told by him by his Grandmother, incorporating memories of life on Burnt Bridge Mission and cultural memories of Aboriginal life before the European arrival.

In his practice, Blak Douglas explores current social justice, political issues and Aboriginal culture. His iconic and satirical works are inspired by elements of the 1960’s pop art movement and informed by his research into historical records of Aboriginal resistance, ethnography and anthropology. Blak Douglas’ main medium is synthetic polymer on canvas, his works utilise the density, bold colour range and industrial nature of the medium. Blak Douglas describes his practice as:

“I feel that in the genre of painting there’s a huge opening for Aboriginal artists to reinterpret. So I’m exploring that not only in my trademark metaphoric style but also in my newly coined style of portraiture. I’m cheekily creating works that I state are parodies of ‘dot painting’. More to the point (no pun intended)… I say that I’m ‘stereotyping the stereotype’. Very obviously over the top and as bold as can be.”

I would like to sincerely thanks Uncle Milton Budge and Blak Douglas for sharing these magnificent bodies of work. It has been a pleasure to work with Uncle Milton Budge and Blak Douglas on this project and the accompanying catalogue. It has been a privilege to get to know both artists and be immersed in their practice. I would especially like to thank Tina Baum for her poetic and insightful essay that provides a context for both Milton Budge and Blak Douglas practice. I would like to thank Aunty Kate Morris, Bridget Purtill and Kelly O’Brien for their wonderful assistance which has made this project possible.

Niomi Sands
Curator
Glasshouse Regional Gallery

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