Marking our way: First Nations prints from Australia

Arnhem Land is a vast wilderness area in the northeast corner of Australia’s Northern Territory defined by rocky escarpments, river gorges, networks of creeks and lagoons and a coastline of arcing white sand beaches. The region, where ‘freshwater country’ meets ‘saltwater country’, has been home to the Yolngu people for millennia. In a remote corner of this land, in the coastal community of Yirrkala, the ancient craft of printmaking has flourished.

Marking our way: First Nations prints from Australia celebrates twenty years of vibrant creative activity through the Yirrkala Print Space located at the renowned Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre in Northeast Arnhem Land. The Yirrkala Print Space is unique amongst remote community print workshops, boasting continual onsite production of limited edition fine art prints by locally employed and trained Indigenous printmakers. Since its founding in 1995, Yolngu artists have embraced and mastered a variety of printmaking techniques with enthusiasm and proficiency to produce a stunning body of work.

The range of artworks found in Marking our way: First Nations prints from Australia showcases the Yolngu respect for clan and country, with many prints relating to the creation stories and Law as passed on by their ancestors, highlighting the importance of kinship. Prints provide another medium for passing on knowledge to the younger generations in order to keep culture and history and identity alive and strong, while at the same time informing the outside world about Yolngu culture.

Including work from over 50 artists, Marking our way: First Nations prints from Australia takes the viewer on a visual journey, mapping the chronological evolution of the Print Space and its vibrant activities from the first black and white linocuts produced, to the technically diverse and innovative outcomes of major projects. This exhibition provides an opportunity for the wider public to recognize the accomplishments of a sustainable, functional and thriving print studio operating in an isolated landscape and the artistic achievements of its artists.

The prints in the exhibition are both visually engaging and rich with cultural and historical content creating a platform for meaningful dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Audiences have the chance to learn of the Yolngu’s strong tradition in artwork and how their skills, talent and creativity have translated to printmaking. Visitors to the exhibition will learn about the nuances and stories of the art of the Yolngu of Northeast Arnhem Land and through this artistic storytelling audiences are exposed to the knowledge held deep in Indigenous culture.

The Yirrkala Print Space encourages innovation while maintaining respect for time-honored cultural practices. Prints in the exhibition echo family stories and daily life, layering and combining the old and the new to reflect the complex and rich world Yolngu inhabit, whether that be fishing, hunting and gathering bush foods, participating in time honored ceremonial gatherings, or coming together to play sports. Many prints represent this diverse experience, in particular the Yuta Project, a series of evocative self-portraits created through a dedicated youth project. Utilizing digital photography and hand drawn elements to reference daily life, individual and cultural identity, the works in this series of boldly designed and colored screen prints mesh clan designs with elements of popular culture to great effect, signaling a new generation of printmakers.

Marking our way: First Nations prints from Australia is a vibrant acknowledgement of the creative energies, talent and commitment of generations of Yolngu artists who have utilized and pushed the boundaries of the printmaking medium to share significant cultural and historical stories.

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Tour Schedule

Marking our way: First Nations prints from Australia is touring June 2023 through May 2027. The dates below reflect seven-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact MoreArt@maaa.org or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.

Exhibition Details

Fee Includes
Press Kit
Registrar’s Packet
Programming Guide
Gallery Guide
Text Panels
Narrative Labels
Full Insurance
Installation Instructions
Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Content

    84 prints

  • Curated By

  • Organized By

    Artback NT

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee

    $11,500

  • In-Region Rental Fee

    $6,900

  • Duration

    7-week display

  • Shipping

    Van Line

  • Running Feet

    267

  • Square Feet

  • Security

    Moderate B

  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    five estimated

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.