Images (L-R)Carriers, (l to r) Peter Turner, Large Kuru/Gurru/Bowl, Gum species, 2021; Clem Newchurch, Fish Scoop/Emu Egg Carrier, Sedge species, 2014;Clem Newchurch, Medium Sized Kuru/Gurru/Bowl, Gum species, 2021;Clem Newchurch, Woven Mat, Sedge species, 2019; Peter Turner, Small Kuru/Gurru/Bowl, Gum species, 2021. Photograph Grant Hancock; Warrior Basket, (l to r) Peter Turner, Club/Digging Stick, Wattle species, 2020; Clem Newchurch, Hunting Boomerang, Gum Species, 2017; Peter Turner, Warrior Basket, Sedge species, 2022; Peter Turner, Digging Stick/Club, Wattle Species, 2021; Clem Newchurch, Kangaroo Tail Shaped Club, Wattle species, 2019. Photograph Grant Hancock.

KAURNA: Still Here

Peter Turner & Clem Newchurch

The South Australian Museum
11 March – 8 May 2022

The Guildhouse First Nations Collections Project with the South Australian Museum.

First Nations artists Peter Turner and Clem Newchurch have researched the South Australian Museum’s collections to inspire their exhibition KAURNA: Still Here. In addition to the Aboriginal Collection their work responds to the works of George French Angas.

Drawing on their Ancestors’ practices prior to European colonisation and informed by material documented by George French Angas, Peter and Clem have created carvings, painted and woven works in this celebration of continuing culture.

KAURNA: Still Here is part of the Guildhouse First Nations Collections Project, a collaborative project providing artists with the opportunity to research aspects of the South Australian Museum’s extensive collection and develop a new body of work for exhibition.

The First Nations Collections Project: The South Australian Museum

The Guildhouse First Nations Collections Project with the South Australian Museum (SAM) is a collaborative project providing artists with the opportunity to research the Museum’s extensive collection and develop a new body of work for exhibition. Works created and exhibited by the artist may reference or respond to illustrations and concepts addressed by the nineteenth century colonial illustrator George French Angas’ exhibition that will be displayed within the Museum at the same time. The aim of this project is to create an ongoing conversation between contemporary First Nations artists and scientists through contemporary visual art, craft and design. The Collections Project provides a unique opportunity for Guildhouse to promote our members to broad, new and diverse audiences. 

The project forms part of the SAM STEAM collaboration project supported by the Government of South Australia through Arts South Australia.

Image: Clem Newchurch and Peter Turner at the South Australian Museum. Photograph Lana Adams.

Peter Turner

Peter Turner is a Narungga, Kokatha, Ngadjuri man who has lived in Wallaroo since his childhood in the early 1970’s. His Ancestral connections extend into surrounding South Australian Aboriginal nations such as Yankanyjatjara and Kaurna. He continues to live on Narungga land today, with his wife and younger children.

Peter has had many forms of employment on Narungga land over many years. His earlier jobs included cleaning grain ships and fishing professionally from a young age. For many years Peter has been the only professional snake catcher on Yorke Peninsula. 

Peter learnt from his Elders from a young age and was granted responsibility to be a custodian of Northern Narungga Country by his Aunties. He continues to research as much as he can about his culture. His cultural knowledge and the knowledge he holds in regards to Narungga lands has led him to work in various forms, over many years, protecting cultural heritage assets and the natural environment on Yorke Peninsula. Peter regularly undertakes work with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet’s Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division still to this day. Peter is a cultural leader within the Narungga community and regularly shares his knowledge with school children, through working with schools and the Science Curriculum Team within the Department for Education of South Australia.

Amongst many other things, Peter has also been an artist (painter) and maker of traditional Narungga tools, for many years. He comes from a family of many well-established artists. He uses his traditional knowledge of plants and other resources to revive ancient Narungga practices, such as string and net making.

Clem Newchurch

Clem is a Kaurna Narungga Kokatha man who has resided in the southern Adelaide region for the majority of his life. He has extended Ancestral connections to surrounding South Australian Aboriginal Nations such as Yankanyjatjara and Ngarrindjeri.

Clem worked for many years in the Youth and Community Services industries, working in roles such as Aboriginal Community Education Officer roles within schools and as a Community Development Officer working in Local Government.

More recently Clem has worked in Arts and Education settings, exhibiting works and sharing his cultural knowledge through various settings such as programs, workshops and events. He has also worked in Film and Multimedia settings including Writing and Directing two NITV ‘Our Stories’ Documentaries that have been broadcast on NITV since 2018.

Clem began weaving after learning the Ngarrindjeri weaving style from Ngarrindjeri Elders at Camp Coorong many years ago. He continued weaving at home on Kaurna Country, sourcing materials from his local area and in doing so, found the appropriate native plants used to make string. Clem has since been developing his cultural artistic practice, learning from Elders, other community members and other sources (such as the South Australian Museum), sharing his knowledge along the way and supporting the revival of Ancient Kaurna cultural practices, including net making and carving.