Commune life revisited in Mallacoota art exhibition

RECOLLECTIONS: Hobart-based artist Phoebe Wood-Ingram in her studio. Picture: Instagram

RECOLLECTIONS: Hobart-based artist Phoebe Wood-Ingram in her studio. Picture: Instagram

Tasmanian artist Phoebe Wood-Ingram began her life on an alternative community nestled in the NSW southern hinterland.

The community, about an hour and a half drive south of Eden was founded by her parents and like-minded friends in the seventies.   

“My parents and their friends believed the breakdown of civilised society was imminent and wished to live self sufficiently in an equal and shared society,” Ms Wood-Ingram said. 

After scouting around for properties for some time, Ms Wood Ingram said the Nungatta property (a farm originally set up in the 1920s as a grazing property) suited the ideals and purposes of the group. 

“It was very remote, secluded and large which suited the survivalist and self sufficiency interests of the group.”

Ms Wood-Ingram was the first baby born on the commune, followed by the arrival of many other children. 

“We grew up in a fairly bohemian existence with group work, craft, gardening, cooking, horses, cows, chooks, geese and enjoying the landscape.”

Aptly named “Nungatta Revisited”, an exhibition opening at Mallacoota this month showcases a collection of oil paintings created over the last three years during Ms Wood-Ingram’s visits to the community. 

Time stands still:  Recent oil painting by Phoebe Wood-Ingram as part of her exhibition 'Nungatta Revisited'.

Time stands still: Recent oil painting by Phoebe Wood-Ingram as part of her exhibition 'Nungatta Revisited'.

The intimate still life images endeavour to reflect the environment and ethos of the community.

“I was saddened by the passing of one of the founding members of the commune. The motivation was to acknowledge and document this great place where I was lucky enough to spend parts of my childhood,” Ms Wood-Ingram said.

“The work is a tribute to Nungatta. The objects depicted reveal an empathy and connection to years of thrift, utility, lack of pretension, and a bohemian homeliness.” 

Today Nungatta still exists as a communal property.

“The appreciation of the life that once was is still reminiscent in the objects and memories left behind. I have noticed that this place is not a static location, the farm is still used by many people and the objects collected in Nungatta since the 1920s seem to have a life of their own,” Ms Wood-Ingram said.

“Although change has crept in - members of the community have left or passed away and all the kids have grown up. Nungatta is still appreciated by the original members, and many long term friends of the farm.

“Nungatta has a unique smell, look and sound. In these images, a part of Nungatta’s strong identity has been documented, preserved and nurtured.” 

“Nungatta Revisited” opens at Mallacoota’s MA Space on September 21 until October 5.

Comments