Though I’ve never heard of her before, I instantly fell in love with the work of Therese Ritchie, after seeing the exhibition “Burning Hearts” currently showing at the Museum & Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
The gallery descibes the exhibition as:
A survey exhibition of one of Darwin’s most committed and socially engaged artists.
Therese Ritchie is renowned for her provocative prints that make fearless political and social commentary. This exhibition situates these prints within her practice more broadly and considers the fundamental role photography has played in her development as an artist.
Ritchie’s work can be both jolting and poetic as she seeks to uncover the truth amidst what she sees as the complexity of race relations and political deficiencies in the Territory over the past three decades. Bringing together photographs, some of which have never before been shown, with many of her well known works, this exhibition explores the richness and complexity of Ritchie’s art.
There are many things to love about the exhibition, including the political commentatory and humour of juxtaposing paintings of Cardinal Pell, Tony Abbott and John Howard receiving kidney dialysis against the reality of life for many Indigenous people who are in the same position. There’s also the rawness and reality of life in the many portraits of Indigenous people living in the top end; as well as a strong sense of social justice in the portrait series of LGBTIQ people where words like “poofter” and “what a waste” are inscribed on the skins of those portrayed.
I was lucky enough to pick up the final copy of the exhibition book. I don’t often purchase exhibition books, but I really wanted to this time, because I really loved Therese Ritchie’s work, and will definitely keep an eye out for future work by her.