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Book Review: The Stranger Artist by Quentin Sprague

Book Review: The Stranger Artist by Quentin Sprague

Book Review: The Stranger Artist by Quentin Sprague

4 November 2020

Writer Quentin Sprague tells the story of art adviser Tony Oliver and how his immersion in Jirrawun Arts, the East Kimberley art studio, helped him befriend and advocate for Aboriginal artists, resulting in Indigenous art appearing in galleries worldwide.

Reviewed by Katie Ryan

The Stranger Artist transports you to the world behind the dots and brush strokes.

It is a cultural awakening that takes place as tradition and knowledge of the land is shared through friendship, patience and acrylic. And as each page depicts a new striking scene of the Kimberley landscape, a curtain is pulled back on the dark reality of the Aboriginal art world. 

This biography tells the story of Tony Oliver, an art adviser and ‘the stranger artist’, who unknowingly becomes an advocate giving light to the unjust world behind the art industry for Aboriginal artists in the East Kimberley region. A voice is given to the artist who dares to keep their tradition alive as they do not excuse themselves from revealing the harsh truth of their history.

Even though for a moment you could be lost in the art jargon, you are quickly drawn back to the contrasting life in which these artists battle for their art to be more than mere dots or brush strokes – but as markings of tradition, heritage and times long gone but not forgotten.

The Stranger Artist is available at major bookstores.

CAPTAIN KATIE RYAN IS THE ASSISTANT CORPS OFFICER AT RINGWOOD IN MELBOURNE.

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