Bush’s work draws on his background as an Indigenous Tiwi Islander based on remote, traditional lands, yet immersed in contemporary culture. With its unique compositional structure and overtly political nature, Bush’s work is a combination of ancient Tiwi culture and his reflections on colonialism, politics and heritage. Painted in traditional ochres, it incorporates techniques drawing on ceremonial Jilamara Tiwi design, applying it to imagery relating to Catholicism, Tiwi colonial experience, anthropological images of the Tiwi, and political figureheads.
Painted in natural pigments sourced from Melville Island, Bush’s paintings are in the three colours of Tiwi land – kurrujupuni, arrikininga, yarringa (white, yellow, red). Bush’s works re-imagine old anthropological images of Tiwi people and Catholic figureheads covered in Tiwi body paint design and ceremonial ornaments. Various accounts of his family’s historical encounters with colonial forces also feature. One of the dominant colonial experiences for the Tiwi came with the establishment of a Catholic mission on Bathurst Island in 1911. This confluence reflects on contemporary Indigenous identity. Applying Western religious imagery alongside a Tiwi visual language that predates the Renaissance, Bush makes work that questions mainstream assumptions.
See full exhibition catalogue HERE