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By Sharne Wolff
Brenda L Croft is well known as a curator, arts worker, academic and joint founder of the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative. This survey exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW honours more than 25 years of Croft’s practice as an artist. Twenty-one works on display are selected from four series of photographs. Croft began taking photographs in an effort to control her self-image and that of her community. I
mages from The Big Deal is Black in 1993 are intimate images of Croft’s female friends (including Hetti Perkins) that celebrate women and family life. The half-dozen works are from the 1994 photographic portraits series’ Strange Fruit the title of which is taken from the Billie Holliday song (after a poem by Abel Meeropol). Stark contrasts in dark and light emphasise the features of each sitter in these poignant close ups of Aboriginal women. When originally exhibited, they were accompanied by a soundtrack of the women’s voices alongside a display of introduced and native species of fruit and flowers that rotted during the course of the show.
The majority of works in the show were first seen in the 1998 exhibition In My Fathers House – that include a series of multi-layered coloured photographs juxtaposed with text. Each picture pulls together family memories from members of the Stolen Generation – one of whom was Croft’s Aboriginal father. Photographs taken to accompany Conference call (a collaborative installation work made with African artist Adrian Piper for the 9th Biennale of Sydney in 1992) were intended to document the real lives of Aboriginal people living in urban areas at the time.
Until September 8
Yiribana Gallery, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
Pic: Brenda L Croft Mary Mumbulla and Murri Craigie 1993.R3 colour photograph 99.5 x 120.5cm. Purchased 1993. Courtesy the artist and The Art Gallery of New South Wales
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