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Installing the second bark at Istanbul Modern

Warning: these photos show artwork by deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Staff from Istanbul Modern hanging the second bark: ‘Murunamirriwuy at Manybalala’ by Boliny Wanambi, 1998, ANMM Collection 00033796

The Australian National Maritime Museum, with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery, purchased a large collection of 80 bark paintings produced to assist the Yolnu, the Aboriginal inhabitants of north-east Arnhem Land to express their ownership, law and traditional knowledge over their lands and waters.

Earlier this year the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKVS) contacted the museum, requesting to borrow four saltwater barks for display in their 14th Istanbul Biennial Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms to be held in Turkey at the Istanbul Modern. The exhibition opened on 2 September.

Objects requested for loan from the museum’s collection are assessed for their suitability according to the criteria outlined in our loans policy. These criteria include assessing the borrower’s venue for security, environment and climate control conditions, objects suitability to support the exhibition brief, logistics of transport and their physical condition. Each item was individually assess by our conservation, curatorial and registration teams and happily approved.

The barks left the museum on 11 August at 9 am for a 3 pm flight to Istanbul. The plane landed in Singapore at 9.30 pm and the crate changed planes to embark on its final leg bound for Istanbul. At 7.45 am on Tuesday 12 August the crate touched down in Istanbul where it was inspected by customs and loaded for a final time into a climate controlled truck. After 32 hours travelling time, the saltwater barks arrived at the Istanbul Modern.

The works are made from thin sections of fibrous tree bark and are highly susceptible to changes in climate, humidity and temperature. Upon reaching their final destination they were given 48 hours to slowly acclimatise to the conditions at the museum before being unpacked, inspected and condition-checked for any changes or damage during transit by the museum’s courier. Finally, the barks were hung and are now on display for visitors to enjoy.

Rhondda Orchard, Registrar


Rhondda Orchard

Rhondda is the Managing Registrar Collection Documentation and Database at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Posted in: Conservation , Indigenous