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Shock & Ore

A men's artist collective from Tennant Creek, two art galleries, and some incredible storytelling. Charles Darwin University (CDU) Art Gallery and Coconut Studios have joined forces to present Shock & Ore – a bold and unique two-part exhibition across both sites, featuring recent artworks by Tennant Creek Brio.

By Tierney Seccull

Based in Tennant Creek, the Brio – an Italian word meaning mettle, fire, or vivacity of style or performance – is made up of eight core members. They repurpose discarded materials from technical and industrial debris to create works in a new and poetic way.

Remaining true to their art therapy origins, the Brio operates with strength and healing at the core of their creation, which is reflected through the reimagining of discarded materials they use.

“In recent years, Brio have exhibited in Sydney, Melbourne, Alice Springs and Darwin. Their increasing national profile makes this an enticing major exhibition for Darwin,” says CDU Art Gallery Curator, Dr. Joanna Barrkman.

“The presentation across two galleries speaks to the prolific output and monumental scale of Brio’s artworks. Coconut Studios has close proximity to CDU Art Gallery … and, by joining forces with this newly established contemporary art gallery on the Darwin visual arts scene, both galleries extend our audiences and reach.”

At CDU Art Gallery, Shock bursts forth with all the heat and flame of a military spectacle or a fire dragon. Large collaborative works by Fabian Brown and Rupert Betherus allude to a parody of conflict and pillage by ancestral and folk heroes.

Tucked in a side pocket of the gallery is a dragon’s lair, awash with jewelled treasures in a series of works by Lindsay Nelson and Joseph Williams. A dazzling display, they suggest cultural reappropriation of mining maps and drilling intercepts.

Over at Coconut Studios, Ore is a metaphorical affair. While presenting trademarks typical of the Brio’s grunge and folklore, there’s strong reference to abandoned mining infrastructure, all the while invoking a sense of melancholic loss.

Works have been created to conjure the haunting wounds and wonders of Country, attesting its resilience. In 1860, after John McDouall Stuart entered Warumungu Country, the telegraph line soon followed. By 1885, 200,000 cattle and 10,000 horses had crossed the land.

The Warumungu were terrorised and pacified, their Country trampled and pillaged of five million ounces of gold and around five hundred thousand tonnes of copper. Ore is a potent elegy to loss, seeped through with a conflicted constellation of nostalgia to bygone “glory days”.


CDU Art Gallery
WHEN THU 4 AUG – SAT 22 OCT | OPENING THU 4 AUG, 5.30PM

Coconut Studios
WHEN THU 4 AUG – SUN 18 SEP | OPENING THU 4 AUG, 7PM

Thumbnail, header & inset: Fabian Brown and Rupert Betheras, 'Headless horseman', 2022, acrylic on canvas, 215x202cm

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