Amanda Bell’s From our lip, mouths, throats and belly – one of the standout works at the 2021 Revealed Exhibition – has been acquired by the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the City of Fremantle and Despina and Marcus Canning AM; a momentous achievement for the Bunbury-based emerging artist.

A Badimia and Yued woman, Bell’s striking neon sculpture features the Noongar word “Moorditj” (good or awesome) alongside audio stories from local Elders. The work explores the power of language in connecting with one’s cultural and familial heritage.

Fremantle Art Centre Director Anna Reece commented, “We are absolutely thrilled to announce this significant acquisition of Amanda Bell’s work, including her first work to be collected by the state gallery – a major career milestone.”

“Both a celebration and a tribute to Noongar language and culture, we are ecstatic to see this artwork gain the platform and accolades it so deserves.”

Amanda Bell pictured with her work From our lip, mouths, throats and belly at Fremantle Arts Centre, 2021 Revealed Exhibition

From our lip, mouths, throats and belly was premiered at Fremantle Arts Centre’s (FAC) 2021 Revealed Exhibition, an annual showcase of Western Australia’s emerging Aboriginal artists. The work was created with support from a Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries grant.

The Art Gallery of Western Australia acquired the work as part of the AGWA Foundation COVID-19 Stimulus package. The work will complement other neon sculptures in the State Art Collection by nationally acclaimed Indigenous artists, including Brook Andrew’s 1998 Ngajuu ngaay nginduugirr [I see you] and Reko Rennie’s 2020 OA Warrior I (blue) and OA Warrior II (pink).

From our lip, mouths, throats and belly will go on display in Balancing Act as part of the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s rooftop launch program later this year.

The Art Gallery of Western Australia’s Director Colin Walker commented, “We’re delighted to acquire Amanda Bell’s From our lip, mouths, throats and belly.”

“The work not only signifies the importance of language as identity, and in keeping history alive, it also explores the beauty of the Noongar language through a single word, Moorditj.”

The City of Fremantle has acquired an edition of the work to go on permanent display in Fremantle Arts Centre’s front garden, as a bold symbol of gratitude and respect to the Whadjuk people and all of Australia’s First Peoples.

The third edition is joining the collection of Despina and Marcus Canning AM and will be on display in August at Noongar Country 2021 | Power and Healing: Now, at the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery before installation at The Rechabite later in the year.

From our lip, mouths, throats and belly was inspired by Amanda Bell’s experience of her mother’s passing, during which time she started learning Welsh as a method of connecting to her past. It also touches on the enduring power of words as cultural artefacts over millennia, and the resilience of Aboriginal people in seeing their lives as “Moorditj” despite the presence of hardship.

According to Bell, “Words are ancient. They are a very powerful way to connect to and honour our past, and the work is a reflection of this.”

“Growing up, I never saw any of my language or my people represented in the physical environment of the cities I grew up in. I never looked up and saw myself reflected back.”

“To know that my artwork and the word Moorditj will be represented in such important institutions and seen by young Noongar people… it’s such an honour. It hasn’t sunk in yet, maybe it never will.”

About the artist
A Badimia and Yued woman, born on Whadjuk Country, Amanda Bell lives and works on Wadandi land by the sea. She has a diverse creative repertoire, working with sculptural materials, video, sound, textiles, found objects, and most recently neon lighting. Her works are ambitious and experimental, and with them she aims to “… try new ways of telling stories that are sometimes uncomfortable and painful, sometimes fun and frivolous.”

She has been featured in various exhibitions, including Fremantle Arts Centre’s Revealed Exhibition and Bunbury Regional Art Centre’s Noongar Country, and her work is held in various state and private collections.

Artwork description
Amanda Bell, From our lip, mouths, throats and belly, 2021, neon, audio, 158 x 300 x 6cm. Photography by Pixel Poetry.

Media contact: Rosamund Brennan, [email protected], 08 9432 9565