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Shirley Macnamara

Shirley Macnamara

Shirley Macnamara’s artistic practice draws upon her deep connection to the land in far north-west Queensland, using natural materials including spinifex, ochre, animal bones and feathers to create her sculptural objects such as guutu (vessels), baskets and large installations that reflect forms found in nature. 

Macnamara works predominantly with spinifex, a native grass that grows in abundance throughout remote Australia, which she weaves to create objects and sculptures that recall the Country from which it was formed with the natural features of the land wielding a powerful aesthetic and cultural influence on the design of each piece. Her works are an evocative representation of the harsh, dry, yet beautiful region of her traditional Indjalandji Country surrounding Camooweal and her home in far north-west Queensland.

Macnamara’s time-consuming, considered and process-based practice reveals sophisticated multi-layered meanings that draw upon issues of environment, history, politics, culture, family, and deeply personal emotions. She is an artist of great insight, creating poetic objects of immense beauty and poignancy. 

Macnamara won the prestigious Wandjuk Marika Memorial Three-Dimensional Award at the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2017 and was honoured with a major solo retrospective exhibition, entitled Shirley Macnamara - Dyinala Nganinya, and publication at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane in 2019.

Recognition and admiration for Macnamara's practice continues to resonate. In 2022 her work was selected for both the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair's 'Big Sculpture Showcase' exhibition and the Cairns Art Gallery's 'Faceless Transforming Identity' exhibition, and in 2023 she was once again reciognised as a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Art Awards at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

Macnamara’s work is found in several major collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, the UQ Art Museum, Brisbane, the Australian War Memorial art collection, and the Cairns Art Gallery, Cairns, Queensland.

 © The Artist & Alcaston Gallery, 2024

For an extended CV, please contact Alcaston Gallery at

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