Australian Stories Come to Life in Silver and Sparkling Enamels

Australian stories and legends fascinate Australian artist, Beat Urfer. Stories about early explorers of this vast land or aboriginal stories about Nature and an ancient indigenous lifestyle, passed down from one generation to the next, are subjects that he explores with great interest.

Australian Explorers

Aboriginal man holds magpie goose as Leichardt looks onLeichhardt - detail in enamel
Image emblazoned on rock wall, across from a riverLeichhardt - acrylic and enamel

Typically, explorers would set out from a southern settlement and head for the areas of central and northern Australia that were unknown to the, mostly British, residents of the new colonies.

There was often a degree of competition and reward associated with the success of these government sanctioned ventures. Explorers were often inexperienced and ill-equipped for what usually turned out to be a journey of great deprivation and discomfort, if not death.

Beat's interpretations of these historically factual expeditions bring to life imagined and often dramatic moments in the lives of these intrepid adventurers.

'Dig' tree - Burke and Wills and KingBurke and Wills and King
Detail - message carved in tree trunkEnamel detail

Aboriginal Australian Stories

"Beat Urfer is a magician. He weaves myths around the globe, beginning in Australia, his adopted country, spinning his poetic kaleidoscope further around China, Egypt, the Mediterranean and Paris, depicting legends, myths, operas. He invites the beholder to join him in his dreams. Beat Urfer's medium is the cloisonné technique and he places the cloisonné miniatures facet-like into an extended painted surrounding. The compositions complement each other, whereby the painted part of the work never dominates, to allow the cloisonné miniatures to display their full luminosity. Beat Urfer is a master of his art. He charms our stage of reality with beauty, lets us comprehend that dream and reality; man and nature and mythos do co-exist in as much as they are also closely entwined". Dr. Ch. Merkes-Frei, Goethe Institute, Atlanta, USA.

Beat remarks "I have been creating my own interpretations of all kinds of myths, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait legends, for thirty years - long before it became 'trendy' to paint story pictures.

Torres Strait and Aboriginal myths and dreamtime stories often also relate to the creation of animal species and geographic and constellation features, as depicted in "Aukam, the Lady in the Moon", a Torres Strait legend and "Waratah", an Aboriginal legend.

Torres Strait Islander woman in the moon, weaves pandanus leavesAukam, Lady in the Moon
Enamel detail from Aukam Lady in the MoonEnamel detail

On Saibai Island, Aukam's work was to weave mats from coconut leaves, by the light of the moon and only then. The moon noticed this, and, believing that she loved him, came down one night and carried her away to be encircled by the curve of his bright light - where she may be seen to this day.

Red waratah flower with an insert depicting the distraught girl, KrubiWaratah
Krubi mourns the death of her lover

"Krubi, the girl with the wallaby cloak, adorned with red feathers who, for the love or her own dead warrior Bahmai, left this world as he had done and was transformed into the Waratah, the symbol of undying love".

 From "Aboriginal Fables" by A.W. Reed, A.H. & A.W. Reed Pty. Ltd., 1965

Hair comb embedded with images of Torres StraitTorres Strait Impressions
Hair comb embedded with images of Torres Straitenamel detail, Torres Strait Impressions

The Torres Strait groups of islands lie between the tip of Cape York in North Queensland and Papua New Guinea. Understandably, much of the culture of their inhabitants centres around the ocean and the interaction between the peoples of the volcanic, mountainous groups, those from islands which have developed from sand cays and those which adjoin the Australian mainland.

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Beat Urfer, Cloisonne

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European Myths and Legends

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