Naggirrga Marajala ‘Barrjala’

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and Tate yesterday announced the acquisition of six artworks by five artists as part of the International Joint Acquisition Program for contemporary Australian art.

Since its inception the program has made possible the acquisition of 35 artworks by 24 artists for the Collections of Tate and MCA. This ground-breaking acquisition program which has brought the work of Australian artists to the attention of a global public was made possible through a $2.75 million corporate gift from the Qantas Foundation in 2015.

The most recent acquisitions include the sculptural work Untitled (Interiors) (2008) by Simryn Gill (Sydney and Malaysia), canvas painted in natural earth pigments Garnkiny (2013) by senior Gija artist Mabel Juli (East Kimberley, Western Australia), bark painting, Baratjala (2020) by senior Yolŋu artist Noŋgirrŋa Marawili (East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory), installation, Remember Royalty (2018) by Kokatha and Nukunu artist Yhonnie Scarce (Melbourne) and two abstract paintings massacre inlet (1994) and memory scar, grevillea, mangrove pod (& net) (2020) by Waanyi artist Judy Watson (Queensland).

The jointly acquired artworks by Mabel Juli, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce, will soon go on display for the first time at Tate Modern in London as part of their expanded rehang of the acclaimed collection exhibition A Year in Art: Australia 1992. Extended to 14 May 2023, this presentation explores Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ relationship to Country as well as colonisation’s ongoing impact on issues of representation, social injustice and climate emergency. Simryn Gill’s series of sculptures Untitled (Interiors) (2008) are currently on display at the MCA in MCA Collection: Perspectives on place, an exhibition bringing together artworks that respond to the the social and physical aspects of place.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Director, Suzanne Cotter, said: “The MCA and Tate
International Joint Acquisition partnership continues to play a significant role in promoting contemporary Australian art and Australian artists to international audiences. We are delighted  visitors to Tate Modern can see the works of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and learn about their culture and personal connections to land and history. We look forward to bringing these works back to the MCA for visitors to experience in the future.”

Tate Modern Director, Frances Morris, said: “Thanks to the generosity of the Qantas Foundation, this valuable collaboration with the MCA has enabled both collections to represent Australian art at its best, deepening our understanding of international contemporary art and allowing us to tell new transnational art histories. We are thrilled to be welcoming many of the artists into Tate’s collection for the first time and look forward to sharing these significant works with our visitors.”