One foot on the ground, one foot in the water

Touring 2022–24

Artists: Catherine Bell, Timothy Cook, French & Mottershead, Mabel Juli, Richard Lewer, Sara Morawetz, Michael Needham, Nell, Patrick Freddy Puruntatameri, Nawurapu Wunuŋmurra
Curator: Travis Curtin

We are proud to partner with NETS Victoria to tour this thematic group exhibition to five Australian public galleries, beginning with Bunjil Place in February 2022. The exhibition was first presented at La Trobe Art Institute from 2 November 2020 to 17 January 2021.

At a time when many are experiencing complex feelings about the frailty of life and future uncertainty, One foot on the ground, one foot in the water explores the subject of mortality and the inseparable link between life and death.

The exhibition presents more than 20 artworks by 11 contemporary artists who respectively live in London, New Mexico and in four Australian states and territories. Their art invites us to reckon with dying as an inherent part of life, invoking experiences of loss, impermanence, transience, remembrance, memorialisation and their own deeply personal expressions of grief. Leading First Nations Australian artists Timothy Cook, Mabel Juli, Patrick Freddy Puruntatameri and Nawurapu Wunuŋmurra illuminate the relationship between life, death and our cultural–geographic context from Tiwi, Gija and Yolŋu perspectives.

Each work is an individual expression of our shared mortal condition. Differences between materials – weighty objects, for example, contrast with light, ephemeral items – reflect the interplay between permanence, the finite and positions in-between. Organic matter, including our own bodies as exhibition visitors, introduces the notion of the life cycle and the sometimes uncomfortable alliance between life and death. Singular and repeated forms reinforce the reality of death as both an individual and universal experience. Sculptural objects and vessels reflect corporeality and the body as a carrier of life. Other works suggest an intangible essence beyond the physical.

One foot on the ground, one foot in the water brings together diverse perspectives in a series of visual ‘conversations’ and counterpoints. At La Trobe Art Institute, works were situated in both gallery spaces, two courtyards and the entrance area. Throughout the tour, they will be installed with the aim of encouraging discussion and stimulating contemplative, empathetic responses.

Read more about the exhibition and the artists in the fully illustrated ebook [PDF 9.1MB], which includes six newly commissioned texts by Mabel Juli, Yinimala Gumana, Mr Wanambi and Pedro Wonaeamirri.

The NETS Victoria exhibition webpage provides further information about the works and the tour. It includes links to purchase a new hard-copy edition of the catalogue and download a learning guide.

This exhibition has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. La Trobe Art Institute received development assistance from NETS Victoria’s Exhibition Development Fund, supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

Image: One foot on the ground, one foot in the water, 2020; La Trobe Art Institute. Photo: Ian Hill

Image gallery