Indigenous plant artists exhibit in Japan

ABOVE: Jenny Fraser filming on Bundjalung Country at Mt Lindesay for her film ‘too ancient to die young’ that features in an exhibition in Japan. Photo: Contributed

For the fifth year, a group of Indigenous women artists will exhibit their work in Japan in July.

Kyogle is a long way from Japan, but curator Jenny Fraser said this year’s six senior women artists from the Bundjalung Nation were part of the Japan, Afro-Asian, Latin American Artists Association International Art Exchange (JAALA).

Why Japan?

Ms Fraser said Japan was a ‘locked country’ through isolationist foreign policy of the Japanese Tokugawa shogunate for a period of 265 years during the Edo period (from 1603 to 1868).

“The initial intention behind the JAALA international exchange exhibition was to help undo any racism and provide access to other cultures from around the world, along with highlighting injustices of the paramilitary influences that drive our governments,” she said.

The women’s group exhibition is called Durangen which means grow in their language.

The plant artists include Euphemia Bostock (Munanjali), Tania Marlowe (Nyangbal), Deidre Currie (Minjabal), Faith Baisden (Yugambeh), Jasmin Stanford (Githabul), and artist curator Ms Fraser (Migunburri).

None of them will be travelling to Japan, but Japanese residents and visitors can view the work.

“As regional artists it means a lot to be invited to Japan, especially because they are so strong in their culture and identity, and are generous hosts in extending friendship,” Ms Fraser said.

Saburo Inagaki and Jenny Fraser in Japan in 2014. “Saburo passed away in 2022. Saburo was an Elder Statesman so his leadership and kindnesses toward Aboriginal inclusion and sharing natural diplomacy between our countries is sadly missed,” Ms Fraser said. 

One of the exhibitors, Jasmin Stanford is a Githabul Bundjalung artist based in Kyogle. She works in printmaking, painting, pottery, sculpture, storytelling and collaboration. Ms Stanford is drawn to the natural environment and her work explores her connection to Country and often reflects native flora and fauna such as eucalyptus, mirris (wild dogs), gihburs (sugar gliders) and binging (turtles).

Ms Fraser’s ancestral homeland is Migunburri Yugambeh Country in the Scenic Rim, the Far Northern Bundjalung, on the border district between South East Queensland and the Northern Rivers region. Her current focus is healing work with bushfoods, plant medicine, flower essences using the raw energy of plants to revitalise ancient healing practices.

The group of women artists is self funded and JAALA has been run by volunteers for decades.

Ms Fraser is in the short film The Crossing Project.

The Indigenous artists exhibiting in Japan. Photo: Contributed

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