The intricacies of the ancient craft of etching is being revealed to artists from Kakadu this week.
The students are spending a week in Charles Darwin University’s print workshops in the School of Creative Arts and Humanities developing their expertise on the kind of equipment not available to them in their remote communities in the heart of Arnhem Land.
The project is funded by uranium-mining company Energy Resources Australia.
VTE lecturer Leon Stainer and artist and community worker Caroline Rannersberger picked up the students from communities around Jabiru and transported them to the Casuarina Campus, where they are staying in student accommodation.
They will spend most of their time undertaking a special course designed to build on basic skills learnt within their communities.
They will also visit Darwin art galleries to gain an idea of the business side of preparing and selling their works.
The students range in age from 16 to senior artists Ivan Namarnyilk and Abel Naborlhborlh, whose paintings can be seen in places such as the Gagudju Crocodile Hotel in Jabiru.
‘For most of the students printmaking is a new experience,’ says Stainer, who earlier this year conducted print workshops with the students in their communities.
‘They’ve learnt a few techniques in their community, but don’t really have the equipment that we can provide them with at CDU.’
Many of the artists come from Murdudjurl, where an arts centre has been set up in the old primary school as an outlet for their works.
The Murdudjurl community runs the art centre, which is currently being renovated, and has established a safari camp for tourists on land that once formed part of Patonga Station with its old homestead still in existence.
Other artists in the course come from Jabiru, Mudginberri and Cannon Hill.
The artists’ works will be printed in limited editions for an exhibition early next year – either on the CDU campus or at a venue in Kakadu.
‘We are in the process of negotiating where the prints should be shown,’ says Caroline Rannersberger. ‘One of the problems for artists in the Kakadu national park is that there is no umbrella group that can organise the exhibition of their work, unlike in other parts of Australia.’