Town Hall Gallery presents the new major exhibition 'Tell Me a Story', celebrating the art of storytelling, showing now until Saturday 17 December. You can find out more about the exhibition on the Tell me a story page.

Detailing accounts of love, conflict and the everyday through oral histories, painting, textiles and more, 'Tell Me a Story' reveals the enduring power of the story to secure bonds between people and communities across space and time, featuring works from Kate Beynon, Jumaadi, Kathleen Gonzalez Villamizar, Sancintya Mohini Simpson, Lewis Wandin-Bursill and Aunty Kim Wandin.

The featured artists aim to deepen our understanding of the human psyche, our past and future, and our relationship to natural and constructed environments.

Kate Beynon’s familial ancestry is the bedrock of her artistic practice. Informed by a diverse range of pictorial traditions including Eastern and Western comic books, animation, film, graffiti, calligraphy and fashion, Kate’s paintings and soft sculptures manifest the hybrid reality of today’s multicultural global citizen.

Born in Indonesia, Jumaadi came to Sydney in 2000. Due to his close ties with both Indonesia and Australia, Jumaadi’s imagery traverses the histories and narratives that weave between the neighbouring countries.

Jumaadi’s work in 'Tell Me a Story' is inspired by the ancient practice of finding relief in the communal bond and joint rituals of storytelling, listening, and fabulation. He connects us with various guises of reality that are informed by the tales told during his childhood, the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahbharata, fables from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, lessons from the Old Testament, and contemporary Indonesian literature and poetry.

Jumaadi said: “Through an ongoing engagement with different communities, I have developed techniques from painting on metal and buffalo hide to conceptualising shadow theatre performances accompanied by complex musical arrangements. My cotton cloth paintings follow the craft and iconographic tradition of Balinese narrative temple paintings in which two-dimensional characters and landscapes are arranged in flat compositions that recall puppets in a shadow play or the reliefs of Javanese Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms.”

Sancintya Mohini Simpson is a descendent of indentured labourers sent from India to work on colonial sugar plantations in South Africa. Her work navigates the complexities of migration, memory and trauma, addressing gaps and silences within the colonial archive. Sancintya’s work in this exhibition references the sounds of experimental documentary and ethnographic imagery and captioning.

Sancintya says, ‘Sitting with my mother during a heatwave on a summer's afternoon, we talk about language, culture and loss. The Language of Indenture references the sounds of experimental documentary and ethnographic imagery and captioning. Putting the songs of Indians indentured in South Africa in the central position and creating a new archive of how language has shifted, been lost and rewritten.

Kathleen Gonzalez is a Melbourne-based Colombian experimental contemporary artist, ethnodance writer, dance performer, cultural producer, artistic director and founder of Tunjos y Cantaros Ethnologic Dance Company. Kathleen has been commissioned by Town Hall Gallery to create a site-specific artwork and dance performance referencing the rituals, prayers, and traditional practices that relate to ancient labyrinth patterns around the world. Kathleen’s new solo performance explores the meandering, spiralling journey of life, including the cycle of nature and the inward and outward human search for a sense of self. With sound design by Sebastian Barahona, this multi-media performance will take place within Kathleen’s installation at Town Hall Gallery.

Kathleen explains: “In today’s ecological, political and social environments, creating meaningful connections and opportunities for cultural exchange are more important than ever. By connecting artists from diverse backgrounds, and exploring ancestral themes of spirituality, ritual and shared cultural values in this major exhibition, I believe we can encourage and unite communities to inspire growth and positive transformation.”

Lewis Wandin-Bursill is a proud young Wurundjeri man of the Woi-wurrung language group. As an emerging artist, Lewis’ recent works have been informed by his interest in the traditional ways of his ancestors. Lewis has been commissioned by Town Hall Gallery to create a new large-scale lino-print referencing his relationship with his four-time great uncle, William Barak, exploring symmetry and the natural lines of nature.

Aunty Kim Wandin is a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung woman living in Healesville. Aunty Kim has worked as a consultant and cultural educator, and her art has been acquired by private and state collections. Building upon the embodied knowledge of her ancestors, Aunty Kim harvests, prepares, and weaves natural materials sourced on Wurundjeri Country. A selection of eel traps, baskets, pots and dishes will be on display on this exhibition.

The works in 'Tell Me a Story' reflect how humans have always drawn on the social and cultural practice of sharing narratives to better understand the world we live in. Techniques and customs such as oral traditions, monuments, folklore, and dance have been developed to hold memory, commemorate experiences, and record knowledge that is passed on to others.

As part of the exhibition, Town Hall Gallery is offering a selection of public programs:

Image credit: Jumaadi, ‘Love will find its way’, 2019, acrylic on cloth, 150 x 285 cm, image courtesy of the artist and King St Gallery on William. Photography by Agung S.