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© Arone Raymond John Meeks/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

Five guardians

Date: 1997
Dimensions:
Image: 360 x 290 mm
Sheet: 395 x 367 mm
Overall: 395 x 367 mm, 0.05 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Arone Raymond John Meeks
Classification:Art
Object Name: Lithograph
Object No: 00031065
Place Manufactured:Canberra

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    Description
    This black ink lithograph, titled 'Five guardians' by Arone Meeks, depicts a female figure towering above five cylindrical spirit guardians who represent the stars of the Southern Cross constellation. It is one of a set of twelve prints entitled 'Origins' commissioned by the Olympic Arts Festival of the Sydney organising committee for the Olympic games in association with Studio One Inc.
    SignificanceThis artwork demonstrates the vibrant style of a contemporary Aboriginal Australian artist, and assists in the interpretation of Aboriginal culture and tradition.
    HistoryArone Raymond Meeks was born in 1957 in Laura, Queensland. Meeks spent much of his childhood in El-Arish, Queensland before moving to Sydney to study art at Alexander Mackie College. After graduating in 1980, he undertook postgraduate studies in Traditional Art and Culture on Mornington Island. By 1984, he had completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the City Arts Institute in Sydney.

    During his time studying, Meeks began printmaking and drew inspiration from the traditional cave art of Cape York, around his country in Laura. In 1983, he was the first Indigenous Australian to be awarded an artist-in-residence at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Throughout the 1990s, he was represented in exhibitions in galleries across the globe including Portsmouth, Glasgow, Lyons, Toulousse, Tokyo, Boston and Santa Fe. In addition to this, Meeks became well known for his illustrations for children’s books including ‘When the World Was New’ (1988), ‘This is Still a Rainbow Snake Country’ (1988) and ‘Pheasant and Kingfisher’ (1994). In 1992, he won UNICEF’s Erza Jack Keats Award for International Excellence in Children’s Book Illustration. Meeks is continually creating new work and currently exhibits in galleries in Sydney and Cairns.

    ‘The Five Guardians’ tells the story of the formation of the stars of the Southern Cross and is based on an ancestral story of the Five Guardian spirits. This story comes from Meeks’ country, Laura in Queensland. It forms one of a set of twelve prints titled 'Origins' which were commissioned by the Olympic Arts Festival as part of the ‘Festival of the Dreaming’ in 1997, for the lead up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

    Jennifer Isaacs described Arone Meeks, the origins of his name and his relationship with the land and its waterways, in her Preface to 'Common Ground Exhibition catalogue', Drill Hall Gallery, June 1997:

    'It was clear to Thancoupie from the beginning that Raymond Meeks was Arone the black crane: that large sinuous bird that alights gently on overhanging trees along water ways, bending its long neck to the water, solitary, seeking. The traditional stories were taught to Thancoupie by her aunty, Maethouone, and in time Thancoupie bestowed this name on Raymond Meeks.'
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