Aboriginal Art

The Yuta Project Success in the USA

Mikey Gurruwiwi, ‘Ngarra’, 2012, screenprint. Image courtesy the artist and Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre

A selection of screen prints from The Yuta Project have been exhibited at Harvey Arts Project, Idaho, USA. TOP would like to congratulate the young artists, printmakers Ruby Alderton, Annie Studd, and Sean Smith, as well as Buku-Larrnggay Mulka on yet another incredible outcome for The Yuta Project.

The Yuta Project was a youth-driven series of workshops held at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Arts, Yirrkala, Northern Territory. The workshops resulted in a series of prints produced by young Yolngu artists. This engagement project empowered the individuals in the community, without boundaries or judgment, providing a safe space where young Yolngu can express themselves artistically.

These bold, contemporary, and sophisticated artworks are a reflection of what these young artists find important in their daily lives and are a powerful insight into issues facing Indigenous youth in Yirrkala. They are also a testament to the immense talent the next generation of artists in the region hold. TOP also commends the progress of three participants in The Yuta Project who have become new staff members at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Print Space.

Please click here to see the selection of Yuta Prints on display at Harvey Arts Project, USA.

Please click here to see Djuwakan 2 (DJ) Marika’s print, Mari (2012), currently on display in String Theory, a national touring exhibition currently on display at the Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT).

Djuwakan 2 (DJ) Marika, Mari, 2012, screenprint. Image courtesy the artist and Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre

Mikey Guyanya Gurruwiwi, Petrol Sniffer, 2012, screenprint. Image courtesy the artist and Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre

Shakara Montalto featured in Whittlesea Leader Newspaper

Untitled, Shakara Montalto, etching on Hahnemühle paper, 25 x 25cm.

The Ownership Project artist Shakara Montalto is featured in an article in the Whittlesea Leader, which you can read here

Shakara Montalto joined The Ownership Projects (TOP) Indigenous Artist in Residence Program in late 2013. She has created a large body of delicate line etchings and bold woodblocks exploring personal themes of loss and identity. Her work is available for viewing at TOP’s Fitzroy gallery.

TOP would like to congratulate Montalto on her achievements this year and express how excited we are to continue working together in 2014.

2013 Retrospective

Featuring a selection of handmade prints and installations by TOP’s resident artists Helen Sheferaw, Ghazaleh Shokrollahi, Khue Nguyen, María Peña, Julius Bright Sackey, Ruby Djikarra Alderton.

The retrospective celebrates significant moments in the complex visual cultural narrative of The Ownership Project, from The Yuta Project screenprints by young artists from Yirrkala (NT), depictions of Yolŋgu culture and clan designs from Elcho Island (NT), to the Mothers and Ink prints by women from Horn of Africa communities (VIC), and the Clan and Country prints and installations from local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (VIC).

Join us to celebrate the works and connections made to date, and the exciting future ahead for TOP’s Creative Capacity and Artists in Residence programs in Kulin Country.


Opening event: 6-8pm Thursday 12 December

Exhibition dates: 12 – 22 December 2013

Gallery: Level 1/110 Johnston St, Fitzroy

Installation by Helen Sheferaw

by Helen Sheferaw

Pinapple by Nadia Ahmed

Clan and Country

Shakara Montalto (close up of etching)

Star of Dennis, Dennis Thorpe, woodblock on Magnani paper

An exhibition of new installation, etching, and relief works by Aboriginal artists Shakara Montalto (Gunditjmara) and Dennis Thorpe (Muruwari). 2013 has been an introduction to printmaking for these artists. The works created are brief excursions on the surface of the complexities of existence. The dynamics of symbolism, representation, drug use in society, cultural identity and sustainability are shifting. Bright pop colours, found objects and the power of language are icons across the spectrum of culture represented in this exhibition.


30 November – 8 December 2013

Opening event: Saturday 30 November, 2-4pm

Location: Level 1, 110 Johnston St, Fitzroy

the torch logo

Special thanks to City of Yarra for their ongoing support.

January 2012 Elcho Workshop

Elcho Island 2012
Elcho Island 2012 prints

Once again we returned to Elcho Island Arts, Galiwinku, to collaborate with local artists. During the three week workshop, artists created limited edition prints centred on the themes of men’s and women’s business. Tommy Minburra and Andrew Markula created a series of culturally significant prints based on ceremonial designs painted onto the chests of young boys during Dhapi ceremony, marking a right of passage into manhood. Female artists chose to focus on subjects relating to their daily lives creating prints depicting pandanus weavings and bush tucker. Overall, the workshop resulted in a strong body of work with bolder designs and brighter colours than previous workshops. For those interested in seeing these prints please email us at info@theownershipproject.com.au

Judy Manany

Elcho Island cushion covers

Photography by Tamaryn Goodyear

Photography by Tamaryn Goodyear

In celebration of the current Dirramu Ga Miyalku Djama print exhibtion, the Ownership Project is releasing a limited edition range of stunning, hand-printed cushion covers with lino cut designs commissioned from Elcho Island artists Judy Manany and Ruth Lulwarriwuy. All cushion covers have been carefully hand printed in The Ownership Project studio and manufactured a few streets away at The Social Studio.

Due to the nature of hand printing the lino designs, each cushion cover is unique in its design layout. Available in small and large sizes and an array of vibrant colour combinations.

These stunning Elcho Island cushion covers will be for sale in the gallery until sold out.

Photo by Tamaryn Goodyear

Photo by Tamaryn Goodyear

Dirramu Ga Miyalku Djama: Elcho Island exhibition

Dirramu Ga Miyalku Djama (Men’s and Women’s Work): Elcho Island exhibition

Exhibition: 13 September – 7 October 2012. Opening Event: Thursday 13 September 2012, 6-8pm.  

Mavis W Ganambarr, My Weaving, reduction woodblock on Magnani paper, 2012.

After last year’s popular Elcho Island print show that launched The Ownership Project gallery, TOP is proud to be hosting its second exhibition of new works from the remote community.

In January 2012, Sean travelled to Echo Island, NT, to run a one-week intensive print workshop at Elcho Island Arts centre. A group of emerging and established artists from Galiwin’ku and the nearby homelands attended the workshops, experimenting with colours in their varied depictions of work and ritual within the community.

Dirramu Ga Miyalku Djama is an exhibition of new, limited edition woodblock prints by Indigenous artists working with Elcho Island Arts in the Northern Territory. From men’s ceremonial chest designs to detailed weaving imagery and illustrated troupie tales, these remarkable, contemporary works tell of Yolngu tradition and culture from the remote island community.

Please joins us at The Ownership Project gallery on Thursday 13 September, 6 -8 pm, for a drink to celebrate the launch of the Dirramu Ga Miyalku Djama exhibition.

Artists Judy Manany and Tommy Minburra at work.

Ruby Djikarra Alderton’s TOP Internship

Rulyapa , Ruby Djikarra Alderton, 2012

Rulyapa, Ruby Djikarra Alderton, 2012

Last month TOP was privileged to have Ruby Djikarra Alderton working in our studio, an upcoming artist based in Yirrkala. Ruby recently co-managed the Yuta Project, a community based screen-printing workshop in partnership with TOP that engaged young people in Yirrkala with their local art centre. Over a couple of weeks in April she also undertook a professional internship with TOP and Alcaston Gallery, organised by Jessica Wraight. While in Melbourne for the internship Ruby also worked in TOP’s Fitzroy studio where she created three stunning woodblocks prints. It was a busy two weeks for her.

Based around Ruby’s traditional water current design these prints represent her first foray into reduction woodblock printing. These prints depict the channel of water that runs between Gutjangan (Bremer Island) and the mainland of Yirrkala, Arnhem Land. This body of water holds great meaning to the artist and her family. Using her signatory vibrant colours and sensitive patterning these woodblocks are a stunning triptych.

At just 18 Ruby is a fulltime printmaker at the Yirrkala Print Space, Buku-Larrnggay Mulka centre (BLMC). Here she not only creates her own work, but also collaborates with established Yirrkala artists. Ruby has also been accepted into the 29th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Big congratulations to her and the team at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre. We look forward to working together in the future.

Ruby’s three prints will be launched at top in the coming weeks.

Ruby and TOP printmaker Sean Smith

Ruby and TOP printmaker Sean Smith

The Ownership Project’s Silent Print Auction Fundraiser

Rah Goh, Ru Yi Lun II, reduction woodblock on Magnani paper, 2012

Brad Rusbridge, Souvenir, reduction woodblock on Magnani paper, 2012

The Ownership Project’s Artist in Residence program provides free art training and exhibition management mentoring for artists from newly-arrived, refugee and Indigenous Australian backgrounds. We are currently working with a dedicated and talented team of artists who will be exhibiting their work in the gallery in 2012.

With a selection of woodblock prints and etchings donated by friends of The Ownership Project available by auction, we invite you to come and enjoy good company, experience beautiful art, and help support the project. Overall, nine artists have contributed prints created at our Fitzroy studio as part of our public printmaking classes. Artists include:

Kylie Blackley, Ray Goh, Liz Lacey, Yvette Ladzinski, Cathy Robinson, Brad Rusbridge, Charlie Merchovich, Sean Smith & Jessica Wraight.

All proceeds from the auction will help sustain our Artist in Residence program, including art supplies, specialised support, equipment and further artist opportunities.

A selection of our current Artist in Residence and remote Indigenous partnerships stock will be available for viewing and purchasing on the evening.

We hope to see you there.

Date: Thursday 24 May 

Time: 6 – 8pm

Auction announced 7:45pm

Address: Level 1, 110 Johnston St, Fitzroy

TOP gallery opens

TOP Gallery opening

Last Saturday,  TOP gallery opened with a stunning suite of prints from Elcho Island. This exhibition launched a new series of reduction woodblocks created in a workshop run by TOP in collaboration with Elcho Island Arts and Craft. It also hosted a retrospective of prints created on the island over the last two years. This island community has many talented visual artists and we are privileged to exhibit their work in Melbourne.

The response from the community has been overwhelming. We had an amazing turnout with some familiar faces as well as many new ones. Many thanks to artist Sue Rankin for her welcome to country and her blessing for TOP. We are very grateful.

Thank you to all those who attended and we look forward to seeing you all at our next opening.

For more photos of the opening please check out our facebook page

Exhibition of Elcho Island prints at TOP

TOP Opening

Come along and celebrate the  opening of The Ownership Project in which we will be launching a new suite of reduction woodblock prints created by artists in Galiwin’ku on the remote Elcho Island, East Arnhem Land.
Accompanying these new prints is a stunning retrospective of prints produced over the last two years at Elcho Island Arts.
This exhibition gives a powerful overview and insight into both traditional and contemporary Yolngu culture.

Hope to see you there!
Date: Saturday, October 1st 2011
Time: 4-7pm

Address: Level 1, 110 Johnston St, Fitzroy  3065

Elcho Island Mural Project

Elcho Island Mural Project

Sean was recently asked by Marthakal Homelands Resource Centre (an Indigenous directed organisation in the Northern Territory responsible for providing services to remote Indigenous communities/homelands) to assist with directing and facilitating a mural project at the only motel on Elcho Island. The project was directed by local community members to provide visitors with an awareness of Indigenous culture on the island. Marthakal Visitor Accommodation is now not only more colourful, but a source of pride and identification for all those within the community who participated in the project. For more photos of the project please visit our facebook page. To contact Marthakal Visitor Accommodation you can contact them on (08) 8970 5157.

The Ownership Project would very much like to thank Julie White, Daisy Gumbala, and Susan Wedlock and all the staff at Marthakal for their support throughout the project. Sean Smith and the artists greatly appreciated it.

Textiles workshop with Koskela Design

Ruth Lulwarriwuy grinding down ochres for her art

Ruth Lulwarriwuy grinding down ochres for her art

In July, Sean travelled to remote Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, to run a textile workshop in conjunction with Sydney based design company, Koskela Designs. The collaboration between Koskela Designs, Sean, and the talented local artists was incredibly fruitful.

Out of the workshop a stunning new range of fabric designs were created by Megan Gurruwiwi, Judy Manany, Mavis Ganambarr, Ruth Lulwarriwuy, and Margaret Rarru. Keep an eye on the Koskela Designs website for details of when this new range of fabric will be released.

Check out Kosela Designs.

Elcho Island Print Workshop, June 2011

Elcho Island Workshop 2011

In June Sean, from The Ownership Project, spent 5 days working with artists from Galiwin’ku in north east Arnhem Land. Participating in this reduction woodblock workshop was a mix of some well-seasoned artists and new emerging talent. After a hectic 4 days of printing, punctuated by ceremony, Sean and the artists completed seven striking reduction woodblock editions.

Participating artists included star weavers Mavis Ganambarr and Judy Manany. Also participating was husband and wife team Andrew Markula and Charmaine Ashley, talented weaver and painter Ruth Lulwarriwuy. emerging artist Katrina Burarruwanga, and senior man Frank Wunungmurra.

A set of these prints will be on display at The Ownership Project Gallery and Studio between 27 September and 9 October.

For further information about these prints please contact Sean Smith on 0448 567 883.

Elcho Island Arts partners with Sean Smith from The Ownership Project to create new suite of prints

Mavis Ganambars paintings and prints

Mavis Ganambars paintings and prints

In the first week of June 2011 Sean ran a one-week print workshop at Elcho Island Arts. During the five-day workshop, Sean and Indigenous artists from the remote art centre worked tirelessly to create seven beautiful reduction woodblock prints.

The theme of the workshop was ‘New Stories, Old Stories’, with artists drawing on both traditional artistic styles, as well as modern life stories. Nine artists were involved in the project. Prints created are a beautiful reflection of the culturally rich and diverse elements of Yolngu culture. Both the traditional and contemporary elements of Arnhem Land art collide, resulting in the vibrant and colourful suite of prints.

For more information about these prints and how to purchase them contact Elcho Island Arts on (08) 8970 5088.