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Spirit + Place: Art in Australia 1861-1996

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


22 Nov 1996 to 31 Mar 1997


Marina Abramovic, Micky Allan, Declan Apuatimi, Robyn Backen, Ralph Balson, Clarice Beckett, Joseph Beuys, Dorrit Black, Charles Blackman, Brian Blanchflower, Peter Booth, Marion Borgelt, Arthur Boyd, Mark Boyle, Harold Cazneaux, Christo, Robert Ambrose Cole, Grace Cossington Smith, Olive Cotton, Peter Cripps, Grace Crowley, Christopher Dean, Roy de Maistre, Enreald Djulbiyanna, Micky Dorrng, David Downs Jarinyanu, Ian Fairweather, Fiona Foley, Rosalie Gascoigne, Hector Gilliland, Walter Burley Griffin, Marion Mahony Griffin, Joan Grounds, Melinda Harper, Weaver Hawkins, Joy Hester, Frank Hinder, Margel Hinder, Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack, Georgiana Houghton, Tim Johnson, Narelle Jubelin, Roger Kemp, Anselm Keifer, Leah King-Smith, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Manila Kutwit, Wolfgang Laib, Nikolaus Lang, Janet Laurence, Lindy Lee, Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri, Richard Long, Queenie McKenzie Gara-garag, Godfrey Miller, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Albert Namatjira, Michael Nelson Tjakamarra, Bobby Nganjmirra, John Nixon, Sidney Nolan, Susan Norrie, Charlie Numbulmore, Bronwyn Oliver, Robert Owen, Mike Parr, Rusty Peters, Axel Poignant, John Power, Margaret Preston, Lloyd Rees, Oliffe Richmond, Michael Riley, William Robinson, Stelarc, Linda Syddick Napaltjarri, Howard Taylor, Rover Thomas, Imants Tillers, Maxie Tjampitjinpa, Uta Uta Tjangala, Turkey Tolson Tjuperrula, Tony Tuckson, Ken Unsworth, Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, Christian Waller, Judy Watson, Fred Williams, John Wolseley, John Young

Guest Curators:

Nick Waterlow OAM & Ross Mellick

about the exhibition

Spirit & Place was a major exhibition of Australian and international artists who shared a connection with Australia as a place of profound and ancient spiritual wealth, and of vast, sometimes daunting landscape. Including both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal works, the exhibition explored the spiritual connections to land that is so evident in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic practice, as well as the European immigrant experience of the landscape and the spiritual.

In Western society, art in the 19th century moved away from figurative and symbolic representations of the spiritual or objective world towards an abstract expression. Art expressed and explored the same spiritual ideas through pure forms and condensed elements, using colour and line to provoke an emotional response in the viewer that was previously attained by figurative subject matter or a visual narrative.

This exhibition aimed to bring together these Western ideas of the visual expression of the spiritual with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Works were selected with four broad categories in mind: Celebrating the Land; Human Presence and Absence; Seeking the Inexpressible; and Anthroposophy and Theosophy. Each work was not defined by a single category, but was chosen because of its relationships with these themes and to the other works in the exhibition, creating a fluid dialogue. The exhibition sought to reflect the ancient traditions of spiritual art in its evolution into a contemporary society.

Gija artists from East Kimberley performed the Gurirr Gurirr dance on 23 November 1996.

Featuring Works from the MCA Collection

Mike Parr
  • Inclined Perspective Wedge (Riverbed)