A painting which features the work of more than a dozen artists across different clan groups on display in Katherine has been described as a "milestone" for art in the Northern Territory.
Four Clans is the latest exhibition at Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts & Culture Centre, and features work from artists from the four clan groups that use the Waralungku Arts Centre in Borroloola.
The idea for the exhibition's centrepiece came to senior Garawa elder and artist Jack Green during the dry season of 2019 - to create one work that represented the stories of the Yanyuwa, Garrwa, Marra, and Gudanji clans, as well as their relationship to each other.
The result was an enormous painting featuring work from 14 different artists across the four clan groups, with artists coming in their own time to work on the canvas across a period of several months.
Mr Green, who also has familial relations to other clans in the area, said he wanted to create a project that united everyone.
"We would like to join forces between the four clan groups," he said.
"With our [different] lore and our culture, we asked each other 'is it ok to put this?'
"We sort of all sort of become one, you know, and we need to work together and understand each other."
With the themes of fracking and environmental activism featuring in a lot of the work, Mr Green said art was an important way for artists like him to talk about important issues.
"That's one way we can tell our story, some of us can't read properly. We tell our stories through our painting and we want...people to understand it more," he said.
"That's why we're telling our story, how we feel about the country. And the country is very important for Aboriginal people because there's bushtucker - it's like a garden for Aboriginal people."
This is the first exhibition at GYRACC overseen by the gallery's new Director Eric Holowacz.
Mr Holowacz said he was honoured to host the groundbreaking work.
"To me, when you look at a milestone thing for painting, or visual art in the Northern Territory that, that's one that's got to be one. We just don't know it yet," he said.
"No matter what, culture or community or country you're in, there's this whole sort of division...but what this work wants to do is say we can also undivide ourselves and make something together.
"It won't stand for the division, it will stand for the unity of us."
Four Clans is on at GYRACC until February 24.
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