From a Northern Canopy: recent work by Michael Boiyool Anning & Daniel O’Shane

23 August – 16 September 2017

Onespace Gallery was delighted to celebrate two exceptional Indigenous artists from Tropical North Queensland who were stand-out exhibitors at Canopy Art Centre during this year’s Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (14-16 July).

From a Northern Canopy, showcased work by artists Michael Boiyool Anning (Yidinji) and Daniel O’Shane (Kuku Yalanji, Miriam Mer, and Kulkagal. This exhibition represented an exciting point of alignment between two artists at different ends of the professional career spectrum, one emerging and one established. Anning’s boldly patterned rainforest timber shields and fire-makers and O’Shane’s intricate and detailed vinyl-cut prints both draw upon deep traditions to inform their contemporary expression.

The exhibition also represented the first-time collaboration between Onespace Gallery and Canopy Art Centre and Indigenous Research Consultant Trish Barnard. Our sincere thanks to Trish Barnard, Gallery Manager of Canopy Art Centre Paloma Ramos and Master Printmaker Theo Tremblay of Editions Tremblay Print Workshop.

About Michael Boiyool Anning

Michael is recognised as the foremost Indigenous artist in Queensland to revive a unique tradition of making artefacts such as Big-uun (shields) that were once used as weapons by the Yidinji people and Nalan Gugal (Firemakers). He was the first Yidinji man to reinvigorate shield making when he produced two shields for a contemporary Yidinji dance group in Ravenshoe in 1989 (two of which are still displayed at the Nganyaji Interpretive Centre in Ravenshoe).

His language name, Boiyool, has two meanings: it is the word for a piece of lawyer cane cut specifically to stir a non-lethal quantity of poison into waterholes when hunting fish, and the name of a mythical being, half-human and half-eel, which travelled up the rivers and visited significant sites in the Dreaming. He first exhibited shields in the ‘Made with Meaning’ exhibition in 1995 at Cairns Regional Gallery, which were later acquired by Jeannie Adams for the ‘Yalba Binbi’ collection in Cairns (now held with Shalom Christian College, Townsville).

In 1998, he proudly became the first Indigenous Queensland artist to win the ‘Wandjuk Marika Memorial Award’ for sculpture at the ‘National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards’ with his work ‘Dulgubarra, Rainforest Dwellers’. That work was selected for MAGNT’s 20th anniversary national touring exhibition ‘Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award: Celebrating 20 Years’ in 2004 – 2005.

Following his lead, only other Yidinji artists, Paul Bong and Napoleon Oui later made shields on occasion and they have since both turned to printmaking to present an interpretation of shield designs.Michael’s works were also featured in the ‘Gatherings’ and ‘Gatherings II: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art of Queensland Australia’ in 2001 and 2006 respectively. The Queensland Art Gallery (now QAGoMA) purchased 15 of Michael’s shields from 2000 to 2004, and he was a featured artist in the landmark touring exhibition ‘Story Place: Indigenous Art from Cape York and the Rainforest’ 2003-2005. In 2003 Michael created a unique folded bark canoe titled ‘Waray Banjaar – Follow the River’ specifically for the 2004 exhibition ‘Temperature: Contemporary Queensland Sculpture’ at the Museum of Brisbane.

His works are also held in private and public collections including the Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns Convention Centre and the Queensland Museum. In 2011 three of his shields were exhibited at the ‘Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’ and purchased by the Queensland Museum. More recently he exhibited shields and firemakers in ‘Gijar gunda big-uun’ at Canopy Art Space (Cairns) and Onespace Gallery (Brisbane) in 2017. ‘Gijar gunda big-uun’ translates as marks painted in a pattern on a shield and therefore appropriate to the new body of works informed by traditional designs.

About Daniel O’Shane

Daniel O’Shane is an emerging visual artist who has started to receive early recognition for his unique printmaking abilities. He has a strong sense of composition and design and remarkable confidence in his patterning (war/minarr) drawn from his Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal heritage. The unique fusion of both Indigenous cultures provides an exciting body of work which is representative of a growing movement in in Tropical North Queensland.

Daniel was educated at St Augustines College, Cairns. In 2009 he commenced a Certificate III in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts, Cairns TAFE campus. He has also received Certificates I and II in construction studies and partially works in the construction sector while pursuing his art practice.

He is well on his way, with his work highly commended and awarded including:

  • 2014 Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (Finalist and Highly Commended and purchased for their collection)
  • 2014 Fremantle Print Award – Special Commendation
  • 2015 Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award – Finalist
  • 2015 Silk Cut Award – Grand Prize Award
  • 2016 Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery – Winner, National Works on Paper Award
  • 2017 CIAF People’s Choice Award