Recent News at Kluge-Ruhe

Ricardo Idagi's Exhibition 'Gurari-Saltwater Drinker' Opens • Saturday August 30, 2014

Ricardo Idagi, Barramoney (Til Next Week), 2012. Image courtesy Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection of U.Va. will host artist Ricardo Idagi, a multimedia sculptor and musician from Melbourne, September 15 – October 4, 2014. His residency and exhibition, sponsored by Australia Council for the Arts, will provide a number of opportunities to meet the artist and learn about his culture and artwork.

Ricardo Idagi is a Meriam man who grew up on Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait, north of mainland Australia. He was encouraged to produce art by two uncles, one of which was Eddie Koiki Mabo, who is famous internationally for winning native title rights to Mer Island in 1993. Idadi took a commercial art course at Cairns Technical and Further Educational Institute and settled in Melbourne in 1997. He initially gained recognition at the exhibition Ilan Pasin (This is our way): Torres Strait Art in 1998 and held his first solo exhibition in 2002. He has been included a number of major exhibitions over the last five years, and has won two prestigious Australian art awards: the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award (2009) and the New Media category of the 28th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (2011). His work is held in the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, among others.

The exhibition of Idagi’s artwork at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, titled Gurari – Saltwater Drinker, brings together works from the last five years that serve as a visual memoir of Mer (Murray Island), Idagi’s home in the Torres Strait. 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 honors the rich cultural heritage of Meriam people and Idagi’s own personal resilience.

Ricardo Idagi’s residency provides the rare opportunity for the community to learn from a leading Indigenous Australian sculptor. He will be present to meet visitors at the final Night at the Museum event of the summer on September 18, when the Kluge-Ruhe Collection throws open its doors to its expansive lawn for local beer, food trucks and live music. Visitors can engage with Idagi’s work in depth at a Gallery Talk on Saturday, September 20th at 10:30 am or at his Artist Talk on Tuesday, September 23 at 7:00 pm.

Idagi will also work with U.Va. students in a number of courses, and is the third resident artist at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection under its prestigious grant from Australia Council for the Arts. The exhibition and residency have been presented in partnership with Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne and the McIntire Department of Art at U.Va.

A full schedule of Idagi’s exhibition and residency is listed below. All events are held at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection.

Opening Reception of Gurari – Saltwater Drinker
4 September, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Join the Kluge-Ruhe Collection in celebrating the opening of its newest exhibition, Gurari – Saltwater Drinker, a group of mixed media sculptures by Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi. Refreshments will be served, and this event is free and open to the public.

Night at the Museum with Ricardo Idagi
18 September, 5:00 – 9:00 pm
Join us for Night at the Museum, your opportunity to explore our exhibitions after hours and enjoy the best food and music in Charlottesville! With food trucks, beer from Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, and music from local band, Red and the Romantics, this event is not to be missed. For the final Night at the Museum of the summer, a new exhibition Gurari – Saltwater Drinker by Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi will be on view, and the artist will be present for the festivities. This event is $5 for nonmembers and free for museum members.

Gallery Talk with Ricardo Idagi
20 September, 10:30 am
Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi (Meriam) will give a tour of Gurari – Saltwater Drinker, the exhibition of his work on view at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. This event is free and open to the public.

Artist Talk with Reception to Follow
23 September, 7:00 pm
Please RSVP by calling 434.244.0234 or emailing
Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi (Meriam) will present his work and discuss his art practice as a sculptor and a musician. A small reception with refreshments will follow. This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Please RSVP by calling (434) 244-0234 or emailing

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