Artist's work a reminder of country

Dianne Dempsey | Bendigo Weekly | 26-Oct-2017

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Black Soil is the first solo exhibition of artist Arkeria Rose Armstrong.

But while she has been thrilled with the response to her Dudley House exhibition, the 28-year-old already hit the high spots when she was invited to create a solo exhibition at the Aboriginal Art Gallery in Rotterdam.

Armstrong created the 30-piece collection while pregnant with her first child two years ago.

A self-contained and serene Aboriginal woman, Armstrong told the Weekly she was approached by the Rotterdam agent Michel Arends when they first met in the Kimberleys.

“I had nearly finished my teaching degree  from La Trobe (Bendigo) and then I started working on the Dutch exhibition,” Armstrong said.

“We all went over to Rotterdam. Me, my daughter Harriet, my husband Chris, mum and dad, my sister and grandparents. We had a great time. We work together as a family.

“Mum supports me from a cultural perspective and dad helps me in terms of the business side of things.” 

Armstrong’s current exhibition, Black Soil is a reflection of  Gamilaraay country at the top of NSW. 

“The black soil there is one of the richest agricultural soils in Australia,” she said. 

“My family is buried in it and now I paint it with each element that makes it home. 

“Every painting has a story that is connected to the country that I call home and I hope to show how this Black Soil is full of colour and tradition.”

Armstrong says she learnt dot painting technique from her Pop who is a Yorta Yorta man, and line painting from her Nan.

Her art work is distinguished by the high level of craftsmanship, the variety of her colour palette but more importantly the innate sense of rhythm, balance and intimacy that shines through the pieces.  

“I explore my Aboriginality with each piece I paint. Each time I paint I gain a deeper understanding of the country,” she said.  

Her agent is currently setting up an exhibition in the United States, a project about which she is very excited.

As for her personal ambition it is to keep growing as an artist.

“It’s a nice feeling that I can leave pieces behind me for others to explore,” she said.

Art devotees are encouraged not to miss the current exhibition of Arkeria Rose Armstrong.

Black Soil will run at Dudley House until the close of day, Monday, October 30.

– Dianne Dempsey

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