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By Sharne Wolff
As a nation of coastal dwellers many Australians have a deep affinity with the sea. Tim Winton once described taking his granddaughter by the hand for her first beach visit as initiating in her “a kind of saltwater birthright”.
Michael Philp is one of a new wave of Indigenous artists from the Northern Rivers of NSW that includes recent NSW Parliament Aboriginal Art Prize winner, Karla Dickens. My Saltwater Murris is Philp’s first Sydney exhibition. His paintings tell the stories of growing up with friends and family during the 70s and 80s, and represent his relationship with the sea and rivers of his coastal home. As the son of an Indigenous Murri woman and a non-Indigenous father – a fisherman – the artist, in his words, “grew up urban”. Most of Philp’s paintings reflect his early memories of days by the ocean hunting for pippis, beach fishing and bobbing about in boats at night under vast expanses of dark sky and twinkling stars. In Spirit View, Philp looks beyond the white timber rails of his classroom window, daydreaming of the world outside. The innocence of these times is reflected in Philp’s minimal palette and naïve style. Despite his childlike interpretation of landscape and figures that appear only as black or white blobs on sticks, Philp’s gentle simplicity leaves a poignant impression on the viewer.
Until November 10
Mary Place Gallery, Paddington
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