50fifty:2020 Central Gallery2020-09-02T10:47:13+00:00


Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, 500 Books, 2018

carved wood, oil paint, aluminium leaf, 95 x 110 x 115cm.
Acquired with funds donated through Curtin Foundation, 50fifty Acquisition Initiative, 2019

In the summer of 1988 I was eleven years old. One morning I wandered into the garage and found what I thought was a large box covered in an old bed sheet. Being a curious kid, I pulled back the sheet to reveal a neat stack of 500 identical books. Dad had rescued the last remaining copies of a Sufi text first printed in 1977 from being pulped after the publishers had struggled to cover the cost of re-printing. I was an avid reader but I’d never considered a book as one of many, a unit of information that could be distributed, contained or destroyed. This stack was every copy of the book in existence, an idea so large yet small enough to be stored under a bed sheet in a suburban garage in Perth. I’ve kept a copy since then, waiting until I was ready to read it – Abdul-Rahman Abdullah

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (b. 1977) is an Australian artist whose practice explores the different ways that memory can inhabit and emerge from familial spaces. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, his work has been described as magic realism, creating poetic interventions with the space it occupies. While his own experiences as a Muslim Australian of mixed ethnicity provide a starting point, Abdullah negotiates shared understandings of individual identity, new mythologies and marginalised outlooks in a multicultural context. Drawing on the narrative capacity of animal archetypes, crafted objects and the human presence, he aims to articulate physical dialogues between the natural world, politics and the agency of culture. Living and working in rural Western Australia, Abdullah provides a unique perspective across intersecting and disparate communities.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah graduated from Curtin University with a Bachelor of Fine Art in 2012. In recent years he has exhibited work at a variety of cultural institutes and art galleries including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Newcastle Art Gallery and Pataka Art + Museum (NZ). He is a current board member of the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art and founding member of eleven collective.



Brian Blanchflower, Canopy XXII (Time Generator), 1990

acrylic with pumice powder on laminated hessian, 220 x 390cm.
Acquired with the support of the Vice-Chancellor, 2017

Brian Blanchflower’s (b. 1939, Brighton, United Kingdom) strong affinity with nature – a legacy of his childhood in the downlands of Sussex – is evident in his abstract paintings inspired by the natural environment. As a young artist in England in the 1960s, Blanchflower was impressed by ancient sites and megaliths – a clue perhaps to the artist’s consistent concern with our place in the cosmos. After immigrating to Western Australia in 1972 Blanchflower made frequent trips to the south coast of Western Australia and to the salt-lake region north-east of Perth, which formed the basis for many of his works throughout the 1970s and 1980s. His abstract works took from the Australian landscape not just the colours and textures of the earth and shimmering night sky, but the parched vastness and sense of infinity associated with nocturnal visions.[i]

The materiality of Blanchflower’s work is intrinsic to his exploration of the spiritual. Through his practice he considers issues of existence, transcendence and the cosmos. His interest in the notion of looking as a metaphor for spiritual contemplation finds perfect expression in the ‘Canopy’ series, which the artist began in 1985. The sky, or space, is pivotal for Blanchflower as the ultimate subject for painting, allowing the medium its greatest freedom.[ii] The Canopyseries is described by Blanchflower as a personal cosmology. Exploring the sky and space beyond, these works transmit Blanchflower’s deeper spiritual motivation, each work “looking upwards, and outwards, yet inwards at the same time[iii].

Since 1974 Blanchflower has held numerous solo exhibitions in Perth and Sydney, and has taken part in group shows in Japan, China and Australia. In the 1970s and 80s he was a key member of the pioneering group of artists, Praxis, which led to the establishment of the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, and from 1972 to 1984 was a lecturer in fine art at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University). His works are held in major collections around the world, including most of Australia’s state galleries.



[i] Retrieved 16/06/2017 from: https://www.mca.com.au/collection/artist/blanchflower-brian/

[ii] Retrieved 16/06/2017 from: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/198.2013.a-d/

[iii] Blanchflower, B. 2016, “The Canopies: a cosmic vision”, McLean, I. 2016, Brian Blanchflower: Canopies, Exhibition catalogue, ANU Drill Hall Gallery, 2016

Lorraine Connelly-Northey, Narrbong, 2006

galvanized steel, wire, and feathers, 86 x 35.7 x 23 cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Helen and Ben Korman, 2018

Born in 1962 in Swan Hill, Victoria, Lorraine Connelly-Northey is of Waradgerie and Irish descent. Inspired by the Mallee and Riverina bush environments of north-western Victoria where she grew up, her innovative objects and installations relate to the history and culture of the Waradgerie and her personal connection to the land. Using found materials, both industrial and organic, such as corrugated iron, fencing wire, feathers and shells, Connelly-Northey uses her knowledge of Aboriginal coil weaving to transform recycled materials into traditional forms such as kooliman and dilly bags.[i] In using this debris of recent rural agriculture, Connelly-Northey speaks to a complex relationship across pre- and post-colonial Australia, whilst asserting a story of resilience within an environment that tends to erosion and loss. In each case, the objects created carry both their material history and the material’s cultural weight. They also perform an educational function, participating in a system of knowledge transfer, from artist to audience, senior practitioner to younger maker, peer to peer, amongst community.[ii] The transformation of rusted wire, mesh and galvanised iron into objects representing Aboriginal artefacts in the form of contemporary post-colonial art, is a brilliant innovative melding of her Irish and Aboriginal heritage. From tiny Narrbong (string bags) to large installations, the work of Connelly-Northey connects across cultures and generations.

Connelly-Northey’s work has been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, including at the National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery Gallery of Modern Art, Melbourne Museum, Tandanya, Object Gallery, Koorie Heritage Trust, Mildura Arts Centre, and Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery. Connelly-Northey has participated in major exhibitions around Australia, including the 2013 Melbourne Now survey of Victorian art at the National Gallery of Victoria, the 2012 Asia Pacific Triennial, the National Gallery of Australia’s 2nd Indigenous Art Triennial, the 2010 Sydney Biennale and the 2008 Adelaide Biennale. Her work is represented in major Australian collections including, National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Language group: Waradgerie

Active: New South Wales.

[i] Retrieved 28/05/2020 from: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/crossingborders/biography/lorraine_bio.html

[ii] Retrieved 28/05/2020 from: https://www.roslynoxley9.com.au/exhibition/narrbong-galang/473tx/text

Susan Flavell, Freud’s Study, 2014

wool rug, 245 x 185cm. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Susan Flavell, 2017

The wolf on the rug swallows the carpet that sits beneath the desk on which Freud worked, swallows the ground on which he stood. The incompatible perspectives underlie shifting grounds – Susan Flavell, 2015

Freud’s Study was created after a residency at the Freud Museum London in 2013, and was exhibited in An Internal Difficulty: Australian Artists at the Freud Museum, London 2015 at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) before touring with Art on the Move until July, 2017. Susan Flavell has long been intrigued by the curious things in life, by images and objects that are not what they seem, by extraordinary creatures, things that bump in the night, creations spawned by dark dreams and the shadows of the subconscious. Her work explores animal and human forms, the real, the hybrid, the fantastic, the monstrous and the mythical.

Susan Flavell is one of Western Australia’s most accomplished mid-career artists. She completed a BA Fine Arts in 1985 and Honours in 1995 at Curtin University.  Over the course of a twenty-year practice she has mastered a formidable range of skills and techniques, including aluminium, bronze and pewter casting, hand-built and cast ceramics, drawing, watercolour, textiles and her trademark use of cardboard to create hauntingly powerful sculptures that range in scale from the very small to larger than life. Flavell has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including Artsource’s prestigious Basel, Switzerland Artist’s Residential Exchange in 1993, and the Mark Howlett Foundation Commission for 2009. She has undertaken numerous public art commissions across Western Australia and her work is represented in collections including the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the City of Perth.



Nalda Searles, Grass Skull 2, 2008

meadow fodder and poly thread, 12 x 22 x 16cm.
Acquired with funds donated through Curtin Foundation, 50fifty Acquisition Initiative, 2018

The grass skull, a hollow form in an effort to understand the casing in which we live. Grass stitched with linen thread. It is strong and resilient. – Nalda Searles

Nalda Searles is a living icon of Western Australian art. For over thirty years she has been an innovator in the use of native fibres and found objects from the environment for the production of fibre-textiles, sculpture and installation artworks. Her practice draws from the unique landscape of the west of Australia to express the contradictions of post-colonial identity and the complexities of her relationship with the land and its inhabitants, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

Grass Skull 2, 2008, was first exhibited in Nalda Searles – Drifting in My Own Land, which showcased new works created by Searles in an intensive period of creativity undertaken since making the decision to return full-time to her solo art practice in 2006. The exhibition toured to 18 different venues across Australia over four years. Drawing on her own life, memories of her parents and the experience of a number of regionally-based women she has known and researched, the exhibition was a powerful expression of identity in relation to landscape.

After graduating with a Fine Arts degree from Curtin University in 1989, Searles was invited to run a Healthway program in Kalgoorlie, teaching local Indigenous people to engage in art-based activities. Pantjiti Mary McLean was one of the program’s participants and she and Searles formed a lifelong friendship, going on to collaborate on major artworks. In the early 1990s, Searles was involved with a group of Western Desert women and began to teach basketry in remote communities alongside arts worker Thisbe Purich. Their teachings instigated the now renowned Tjanpi Desert Weavers. In the mid-1990s, Searles received a mid-career fellowship from the Department of Culture and Arts, which resulted in a major group exhibition at the Moores Building in 1997 entitled Re-Coverings. In 2009, Searles won the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from Artsource and was named a State Living Treasure in 2015. Her work is held in numerous collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Kerry Stokes Art Collection, Janet Holmes a Court Collection, Murdoch University and Edith Cowan University.



Long Tom Tjapanangka, Puli Tjuti (Many Mountains), 2000

acrylic on Belgian linen, 153 x 128cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Helen and Ben Korman, 2018

Long Tom Tjapanangka was born in Lupuul, on the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia near Lake MacDonald, and travelled to Haasts Bluff on foot in his youth. The establishment of Haasts Bluff as a cattle station in 1954 meant that Tjapanangka would find work as a stockman. He was later recruited to assist the police as a tracker, drawing on his extensive knowledge of country.

Tjapanangka and his first wife Marlee Napurrula began painting for the Ikuntji Women’s Centre in Haasts Bluff in late 1993. Ikuntji is about 230 kilometres west of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in the land of the Luritja people. In later years, Tjapanangka also collaborated with his second wife, Mitjili Napurrula. The ancient ranges that dominate the landscape around the community offer a spectacle of rich natural beauty and immense ceremonial significance. Tjapanangka’s paintings celebrate the country’s striking topography. The artist’s stated intent was to paint for ‘everyone’, rather than making works of implicit sacred significance. Tjapanangka’s method was akin to that of his contemporaries Emily Kam Ngwarray, Kutuwulumi Purawarrampatu and Rover Thomas. Like the two distinguished women artists, Tjapanangka was diffident in the face of scrutiny from outsiders as to the ‘meaning’ of his work. And, like the late Rover Thomas, he lived and worked as an artist far away from his birthplace on the Northern Territory and Western Australia border.[i]

Long Tom Tjapanangka’s artworks are held in many private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of Tasmania, and the Art Gallery of South Australia. The artist has exhibited nationally and internationally.

Language group: Pintupi/Ngaatjatjarra

 Active: Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory



[i] Retrieved 24/07/2020 from: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/artists/tjapanangka-long-tom/

George Ward Tjungurrayi, Soakage water at Kirrimalunya, 2004

acrylic on Belgian linen, 182 x 298.5cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Helen and Ben Korman, 2018

George Ward Tjungurrayi paints the Tingari stories of his ancestral country, which covers the sites around Wala Wala, Kiwirrkura, Lake Mackay, Kulkuta, Karku, Ngaluwinyamana and Kilpinya to the north-west of Kintore across the Western Australian border. Tjungurrayi paints in his own adaptation of the Tingari style. Deceptively delicate lines of loosely-joined dots create networks or webs over the entire surface of the canvas. This gives his paintings a distinct energy that contributes to the dynamism inherent in the composition. Multi-layered representations of country reflect the central concerns of the Papunya Tula artists.[i] Soakage water at Kirrimalunya shows the claypans of the water soakage area of Kirrimalunya in the country of his father, to the north of Kiwirrkura. There was water in this area and it was used by the Tingari men as they travelled through the area, headed to Kaakuratintja (Lake McDonald) where Tingari rituals were held. The lines in the painting depict the sand dunes and the circular areas indicate water soakages.

Tjungurrayi was born c1945 near the site of Lararra, east of Tjukurla in Western Australia. He shares the same father as internationally renowned artists Yala Yala Gibbs and Willy Tjungurrayi. Like many of his contemporaries, the artist first made contact with Europeans via a welfare patrol led by Jeremy Long and Nosepeg Tjupurrula – this was said to be at a rockhole site south of Kiwirrkura. After moving to Papunya, Tjungurrayi worked as a fencer and a butcher in the Papunya kitchen. He began painting for Papunya Tula Artists around 1976.

One of the Tjungurrayi’s many achievements is winning the prestigious 2004 Wynne Landscape Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales for his topographical depiction of the Western Desert. He is one of Australia’s most respected and highly regarded artists, and his works are collected world-wide, stamped by a classic style and steeped in tradition.

Language group: Pintupi

Active: Papunya, Northern Territory


[i] Retrieved 24/07/2020 from: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/211.2004/#:~:text=George%20Ward%20Tjungurrayi%20is%20now,Gallery%20of%20New%20South%20Wales.&text=This%20gives%20his%20paintings%20a,dynamism%20inherent%20in%20the%20composition.