At the Gallery | Margaret’s exhibition Anatye

Margaret Loy Pula with Director, Bradley Hammond in front of a painting by her grandmother Emily Kame Kngwarreye donated by Jim Cobb in 2014.
Margaret Loy Pula with Director, Bradley Hammond in front of a painting by her grandmother Emily Kame Kngwarreye donated by Jim Cobb in 2014.

This week we had the great pleasure of welcoming Margaret Loy Pula to Orange Regional Gallery along with Mike Mitchell and Nyssa Mullooly from Mitchell Fine Art in Brisbane.

Margaret’s exhibition ‘Anatye’ will be held at the Gallery from 8 February to 24 March 2019 alongside the Archibald Prize Tour. We are currently working with Margaret on what will be her first solo exhibition in a public gallery or museum in Australia.

I first encountered Margaret Loy Pula’s work during the ‘Artist Profile: Australasian Painters 2007 – 2017’ exhibition at the Gallery last year and was immediately struck by the quiet power and resonance of her painting. She is, to my mind, one of Australia’s foremost contemporary painters.

Pula spends the majority of her time in the remote community of Utopia in Central Australia where she produces her paintings. Her works are intricate and labour-intensive as she builds up pulsating fields of many dots, applied using a small bottle with a needle for a nib. She can control the size and intensity of each dot by modifying the pressure with which she squeezes the bottle. Margaret tends to paint with her canvasses flat on the ground, so we are exploring the possibility of some of the works being presented that way.

Like many artists of the Anmatyerre nation of central Australia, her paintings are based on stories handed down—in this case from her father—with the main subject being the ‘Anatye’ (bush potato or wild yam) which is of spiritual significance to her people. 

Margaret was clearly moved this week when she saw paintings by Emily Kame Kngwarreye (her grandmother) hanging in the Gallery which are part of the Chroma Collection. 

In 2012 Pula was the first Indigenous artist to win the prestigious Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize in South Australia. In 2011, she was the first female artist to win the Sunshine Coast Art Prize and in the same year the first female artist to win the Paddington Art Prize (Sydney). Most recently in 2017, Pula was awarded the prestigious Arthur Guy Memorial Prize.