Last week I finally entered the RMIT Gallery after walking past it at least six times a week for the last three years on the way to and from class—turning right when I normally stride straight past the Storey Hall space did feel strange to my habitual sensibilities, but it turns out the gallery is good for more than just killing any chance of a date with the library. The current Yulyurlu Lorna Fencer Napurrurla exhibition showcases the work of late Aboriginal desert artist Yulyurlu, whose unafraid, vibrantly decorated canvasses subverted my perception of Indigenous art as restricted to a sedated, earthy colour palette.
The second exhibition currently in the space, Kindness/Udarta, celebrates 20 years of the Australia-India Council's Cultural Exchange program that facilitates interrelations between Indian and Australian artists, writers and musicians. The fragmented, funny and touching pieces of India as rendered by Australian artists I saw left me feeling optimistic. Visiting India three years ago I often felt ashamed that many of the locals perceived Australia as a closed, racist nation due to the high number of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney that had taken place at the time. Initiatives like Kindness/Udarta promote respect and celebration of difference as an alternative to fear.