# 36028


Catalogue : Exhibition of Aboriginal Art. Chatterton’s Gallery, 78 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. The exhibition will be open for the duration of the season of Aboriginal Theatre, December 4 to December 22 [1963].

$300.00 AUD

[Sydney, NSW] : The Bennett-Campbell Australian Aborigine Trust, in association with The Australian Elizabeth Theatre Trust, [1963]. Octavo (230 mm), single folding sheet, [6] pp, with preliminary text providing background information on the non-profit Trust founded by Dorothy Bennett and Michael Campbell in May 1962, a description of how Bennett approaches the selection and acquisition of works for exhibition by travelling throughout Arnhem Land, and a note on the works in the current exhibition; followed by a short title list of 218 bark paintings for sale, giving title/artist/price, and prices for sculptural works from Yirrkala, Bathurst and Melville Island, as well as spears from Bathurst and Melville (which can also be made to order); in very good condition.

A rare and significantly early catalogue for a commercial exhibition of Indigenous art from Arnhem Land. The driving force behind the Bennett-Campbell Trust was Dorothy Bennett – researcher, collector, and passionate advocate for Aboriginal art and artists.

The only other example of this catalogue we have been able to trace in Australian institutional collections is held in the State Library of Victoria.

A review of the exhibition by John Henshaw – who makes some sage and prescient observations vis-à-vis the commercialisation and absorption of Aboriginal art into the whitefella art market – was published in The Bulletin, Vol. 86 No. 4379 (25 Jan 1964):

‘Aboriginal Art. Chatterton’s Gallery, Sydney. The second exhibition within a few months organised by the Bennett-Campbell Aboriginal Trust in Sydney, has some of the finest work seen here. It is particularly strong in a group of largish carved figures from Bathurst and Melville Islands, whose stylistic character can be traced to fairly recent Indonesian influence. The X-ray bark paintings are varied and splendid in their concept of animal form, but from all over Arnhem Land a bewilderingly rich array of religious, lay and secular art and craft commands attention. If, as many predict, the production of native art for sale to the white man necessitates a lowering of standards, they should examine this show to see that this need not happen, provided a careful encouragement of serious work is made. Crucial to the continuance of aboriginal culture are two things: the perpetuation of initiation rites with the handing on of a kind of training in all the artistic skills, and recognition by the white man, not only trained anthropologists, welfare officers or missionaries of the unique value of this culture. Exhibitions like this one, or the presentation of aboriginal dance and music, provide cultural achievements in no way inferior to our own. In a real sense these achievements would be acceptable anywhere in the world. For encouragement to work, it requires active support (the Millingimbi recently received two new fishing boats from sales of art in the South) and it is therefore understandable that the Trust will seek overseas support, in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Europe and eventually the USA. John Henshaw.’