Birds are the first things we see, you know, when we wake up. See and hear … You know us old people start and finish the day with the birds. That’s everyday life between birds and humans, you know.
Nyangulya Katie Nalgood
When I read Nyangulya’s words about birds, I immediately identified with her statement. I was reminded of how much I loved hearing the all of the birds when I was growing up in the Australian outback and how that experience has shaped my love of nature. The delicate twitter of the zebra finches, the shrieks of the galahs, the slow cawing of the crows, the shrill piping of the eagles and the raucous cries of the cockatoos.
After a good rain – which brings good grass seeds - the budgerigars would rise from the ground or trees like a great emerald and gold flying carpet, wheeling through the sky in perfect formation. I always prayed for good rains.
As I’ve gotten older, I have not lost my joy in seeing birds of all descriptions. To me, the presense of many birds is a sign of nature flourishing. I cannot imagine life without them.
Birds seem to be one of the few animals that the majority of people, across cultures and through time, derive great joy from. We earthbound humans marvel at their miraculous ability to defy gravity; we cherish their songs; we admire their beauty.
As her full Artist Statement in her Bio attests, Nyangulya has a strong affinity with birds, so much so that she has begun the task of documenting the birds of Western Australia. These diverse feathered creatures fill her personal history as well as cultural life. They are as much a part of her country as she is, and their songs are the sound memories of her home.
Where Nyangulya’s paintings differ from mere documentations of species is that she has captured a sense of the individual: a particular tilt of the head or the demeanour of its posture suggests an inner life that is unique, so that the painting becomes an intimate portrait rather than a representation of ‘bird’.
Nyangulya Katie Nalgood is an emerging artist and senior member of the young Western Australia art centre, Spinifex Hill Artists. She is married to Nyaparu (William) Gardiner, who was exhibited in the recent TARNANTHI Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Her son, Zenith Gardiner Kane is also an artist at the centre.
We are very honoured to host Nyangulya Katie Nalgood’s first solo exhibition, and we’re personally delighted because the subject is one close to our heart. I have every confidence that Nyangulya’s sensitive approach to her subject will be widely appreciated. While her style is naïve, her insight into the individual behaviour of the various species is profound and intuitive. Her depiction for the birds comes from a place of great respect and love for her subjects. We hope you enjoy these paintings as much as we do.
- Karen Zadra