Past Exhibitions at Kluge-Ruhe

Gurari - Saltwater Drinker


Ricardo Idagi, Barramoney (Til Next Week), 2012. Image courtesy Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne.

August 29 – December 21, 2014

In the fall of 2014 the Kluge-Ruhe Collection presented Gurari – Saltwater Drinker, an exhibition of works by Melbourne-based artist Ricardo Idagi (Meriam). Gurari brought together nine of Idagi’s sculptural works that serve as a visual memoir of Mer (Murray Island) as his home. The sculptures are made of a wide variety of materials, from raffia and feathers to beer cans and wrought iron. The works comment on political and social issues facing Torres Strait Islanders today, such as multigenerational alcoholism and the impact of the Anglican mission on the Island. The exhibition also honored the rich cultural heritage of Meriam people and Idagi’s own personal resilience.

This exhibition was presented in partnership with Australia Council for the Arts and Vivien Anderson Gallery.

having-been-there by Nici Cumpston


Nici Cumpston, Leopard Tree II, 2011.
January 17 – May 18, 2014

In the spring of 2014 the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of U.Va. is exhibiting the work of Indigenous Australian Nici Cumpston, an artist and curator from Adelaide, of Barkindji, Afghan, Irish and English heritage.

having-been-there is a series of images created by Cumpston to document the evidence of Aboriginal occupation in Australia before European settlement. Tree engravings, ring trees, and remnants of stone tools abound in Barkindji land. These act as subtle signifiers of the ancestors that once lived in and created the country, and of food and water sources that ensured survival. They also serve as undeniable proof of Aboriginal people “having been there,” before and amidst the colonial assertion of terra nullius, the idea that Australia was a “land without people.” Additionally they are records of the Murray-Darling Basin river system’s natural beauty, as well as its gradual destruction from pollution, salination, and re-routing.

Sponsored by

Australia Council for the Arts

Black Prints from Cicada Press


Black Prints from Cicada Press in USA
Black Prints from Cicada Press provides glimpses into the art practices of a variety of artists from across Australia. Some of the artworks are narrative-based, some are stories of memory, identity and tradition. Others should be considered conceptual art, albeit with a particular Australian Aboriginal twist.

The title is a word play on the Australian childhood summer obsession of collecting cicada carcasses. ‘Greengrocers’ are the most common and many of their carcasses can be traded for just one carcass of the rare and highly prized ‘Black Prince.’

Cicada Press is an educationally focused printmaking workshop at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales (COFA UNSW) in Sydney that places emphasis on open dialogue and the importance of lived experience in learning. Since 2006 Michael Kempson, director of Cicada Press, and Tess Allas, curator of Black Prints, have invited emerging and established Aboriginal artists to explore printmaking as an artistic practice in the form of workshops and residencies. Some of the artists were experienced printmakers, while others explored the medium for the first time. The result is an eclectic but meaningful exhibition addressing the contemporary Aboriginal experience in Australia today, by artists such as Gordon Hookey, Vernon Ah Kee, Reko Rennie and Laurel Nannup.

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