Good Weekend Art Column

Regina Pilawuk Wilson – Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne

Published September 7, 2019
Regina Pilwuk Wilson, 'Sjaw (Fish Net)

Artist: Regina Pilawuk Wilson

Lives: Peppimenarti, West Daly region, NT

Age: 71

Represented by:Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne (Michael Reid, Sydney)

Her thing.Complex, hypnotic paintings based on traditional themes.

Our take.In the small community of Peppimentarti in the north-western corner of Australia, Regina Pilawuk Wilson is the matriarch. She founded this settlement in 1973 with her late husband, Harry Wilson, the leader of a group of Ngan’gikurrungurr people who left a Catholic mission and went searching for a place to live on their traditional homelands.

The women of Peppimenarti have always been weavers but Wilson was inspired to take up painting after a trip to Noumea for a Pacific Arts Festival in 2000. She would find her subject matter in the sun mats, message sticks and fish traps that were already being made in the community. To the untutored eye her dense meshes of closely-packed, overlapping lines might look entirely abstract but Wilson always has a particular object in mind. On canvas the woven forms take on a cosmic dimension, with thousands of rippling lines radiating from a central core, or spreading across as a surface as a mass of broken rhythmns.

Now regarded as one of Australia’s leading indigenous artists, Wilson has won the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, and had work exhibited in the United States and Europe, most recently at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.


 Can I afford it?

There are not many paintings in this show but each one is an exquisite, painstaking artefact. Two pictures are selling for the high price of $34,000 – Syaw (Fish Net)and Yerrdagarri (Message Stick)(both 200cm by 200cm). The lowest price is $12,500 for a smaller version of Syaw (Fish Net)(100cm by 120cm). It’s a little surprising to find that Wilson’s biggest sale to date is only $40,000, but with growing international interest that record looks decidely shaky.

Where can I have a squiz?

Vivien Anderson Gallery, Ground Floor, 284-290 St. Kilda Road, St. Kilda, Melbourne.

21 August – 27 September, 2019.


Published in The Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 September, 2019