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Wik and Kugu artist exhibits at prestigious Asia Pacific exhibition

An installation by Wik and Kugu artist Alair Pambegan has been positioned in the entry of the Queensland Art Gallery at the prestigious 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art opening in Brisbane on November 23.

Called Kalben,the work portrays the Wik-Mungkan man’s ancestral stories and materials collected from his traditional country along the Archer River near the Western Cape York community of Aurukun.

Mr Pambegan is the son of revered lawman, elder and artist Arthur Koo’ekka Pambegan Jr who was thecustodian for two significant Wik-Mungkan ancestral narratives, Walkaln-aw (Bonefish Story Place) and Kalben (Flying Fox Story Place).

As the heir to these artistic traditions, Mr Pambegan uses the knowledge handed down from his father to create vibrant and innovative interpretations of the traditional stories.

The Kalbeninstallation consists of 107 pieces of milkwood, a soft timber collected on country, which Mr Pambegan has carved to various lengths from 14cm to 41cm and hung with raffia to represent flying fox. He has mixed synthetic polymer paint with natural pigments to reflect the red, white and black stripes used by the Winchanam clan which his father led.

Aurukun Shire Council Mayor Dereck Walpo congratulated Mr Pambegan on being part of the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.

“This is a very significant exhibition that will be seen by more than 100,000 people and it is an honour to have the work from the Wik and Kugu Art Centre included,” he said.

“It is an exciting opportunity for Alair who will be travelling to Brisbane to attend the opening where he will meet the leading contemporary artists exhibiting at the Triennial.

“Alair’s art has been widely exhibited and is held in high regard for his modern take on lore that has been handed down over tens of thousands of years.

“The Wik and Kugu Art Centre has a proud tradition of producing acclaimed artists who bring the stories of their elders to life on canvas and in carvings.”

Wik and Kugu Art Centre Manager Sabine Hoeng, who organised Mr Pambegan’s trip, is planning to get more Aurukun artists exhibiting nationally.

The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art is at the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art until April 28.