Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery at Rutherglen Estates launched in October 2017 with what we considered a landmark exhibition featuring Latje Latje and Yorta Yorta artists Trevor ‘Turbo’ Brown and Craig Charles entitled Dhungala.
Dhungala – Trevor ‘Turbo’ Brown and Craig Charles celebrates both artists’ close personal connection to the Murray River as well as the friendship they shared. Their spiritual connection to Country and its animal inhabitants is evident; enabling a very personal engagement with the paintings to the viewer. As both artists have passed on, the exhibition also marks a fitting tribute in memory of Turbo and Craig.
Trevor ‘Turbo’ Brown’s intimate relationship with his animals and birds is shared as he lets us in to his enthralling and playful animal kingdom. Estranged from his family as a young boy due to his intellectual disability, he lived on the banks of the Murray near Mildura for some time. During this period he formed a lifelong love for the animals living along the river and in his own words, the animals were his only friends. The exuberant style of painting employed by Turbo captures this affection with a unique purity.
The artistry lies in the total lack of pretentiousness. It is all about the joy and celebration of his subjects.
Craig Charles also engages with his Country through his depiction of animals, but more often his paintings depict the Murray, historic themes such as Possum Skin Football, 2008, and sacred sites. The sacred sites are often marked as areas of gold, silver and copper leaf applied to the work. Whole paintings are then covered with a layer of clear acrylic or shellac. The use of dark shellac imbues Craig’s work with a sense of solemnity and respect, as seen in works such as Sacred Tree of Knowledge, 2008. A lighter golden shellac is used where subjects are not as secretive or sacred in nature. The layering of mediums and the thematic complexity of the pieces could not be more different than the techniques employed by Turbo, yet both artists share a connection and respect to Country which unifies this exhibition’s collection.
Dhungala – Trevor ‘Turbo’ Brown and Craig Charles is a notable exhibition for both artists as it represents one of the the largest Aboriginal group exhibitions ever to be exhibited in regional Victoria; and show
Craig Charles was a Melbourne-based painter with Yorta Yorta heritage on his father’s side, and Mhutti Mhutti heritage on his mother’s side. Born in 1975 in Mildura, in Latje Latje country, Charles was raised by his great grandparents, Betty Charles, a descendant of the Djara people, and Ron Murray, a descendant of the Wamba Wamba/Lake Boga people.
Trevor ‘Turbo’ Brown was born a Latje Latje man in 1967 and grew up in Mildura, a regional city in North Western Victoria. Born with a mild intellectual disability and abandoned by his family at a young age, he spent much of his youth homeless.