New Dawn alights at Coorong Gallery

An exhibition by artists Natasha Kirby Sumner and Scott Bawden has opened at Tailem Bend.

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Kangaroo-skin paintings are among a selection of artworks on show at the Coorong Gallery this month.

An opening event was held on Friday for the exhibition New Dawn, featuring works by Natasha Kirby Sumner and Scott Bawden.

Among Bawden’s meditative paintings, Sumner’s patterned canvases and decorated objects by both artists – including emu eggs, plates and a walking stick – the unusual skins stood out.

Each was stretched taut, hardened and treated, then painted with images of various ngatji, the animals most special to the Ngarrindjeri people: a swan, a fish, a kingfisher.

The idea of painting on skins had come to her at art school, Sumner said, as she studied medieval manuscripts – traditionally made from sheep, goat or calf skin.

Having tried and failed to paint on rabbit skins, she had found kangaroos to be the next best thing.

The skins she used had come from a tanner who collected carcases of animals which had been culled, she said – they were bio-waste.

“They’re all cured; I mount it, leave it outside overnight so the moisture goes on them, then flatten them to how I want it and I paint on it,” she said.

The exhibition was opened by Raukkan artist and anthropologist Betty Sumner, who also performed a welcome to country.

Coorong council senior community and tourism officer Kellie Jaensch said she was pleased to see more community and Ngarrindjeri art hanging on the gallery’s walls, and described Bawden and Sumner as incredible talents.

The Coorong Gallery is open between 8.30am and 5pm weekdays at the Coorong council office, 95-101 Railway Terrace, Tailem Bend.