In profile: Kade McDonald of Hanging Valley / by Jess Booth

[L-R] Wukun Wanambi, Kade McDonald and Yinimala Gumana. Image courtesy  Amelia Stanwix .

[L-R] Wukun Wanambi, Kade McDonald and Yinimala Gumana. Image courtesy Amelia Stanwix.

Kade McDonald recently returned to Melbourne after nearly six years living and working in Yirrkala, north-east Arnhem Land, where he was coordinator at renowned Indigenous art centre Buku-Larrnggay Mulka. His experiences in the NT gave him an incredible insight into the diversity and vibrancy of contemporary Indigenous art practice. He arrived home galvanised to create a new platform to explore both Indigenous and non-Indigenous contemporary art – “something that would make some noise within the industry”.

Installation view of  Sonia Kurarra  solo exhibition at  No Vacancy , Melbourne, 2016. Image courtesy  Hanging Valley , Melbourne.

Installation view of Sonia Kurarra solo exhibition at No Vacancy, Melbourne, 2016. Image courtesy Hanging Valley, Melbourne.

Before taking a leap of faith and moving his partner and two kids, Iggy and Sailor, to a remote community at the top of Australia, Kade ran his own cafe in Northcote, Palomino, and was a partner in Joe’s Shoe Store, also in Northcote, and Piano Piano in Brunswick East. An “odd transition”, as he puts it, but in his earlier days Kade was a founding Director of artist-run initiative Bus Projects, so his curatorial roots run deep.

Works by Wukun Wanambi, Nawurapu Wunungmurra and Sonia Kurarra. Image courtesy  Amelia Stanwix.

Works by Wukun Wanambi, Nawurapu Wunungmurra and Sonia Kurarra. Image courtesy Amelia Stanwix.

Fast forward to now, and Kade is the man behind Hanging Valley, a nimble, multi-faceted art incubator and consultancy with no fixed address and a remit to present the work of diverse practitioners in varied formats to “an audience starving for access to great works”.

Kade McDonald with works by [back] Nyarapayi Giles, Sonia Kurarra and [front] Rammey Ramsey and Mabel Juli. Image courtesy  Amelia Stanwix .

Kade McDonald with works by [back] Nyarapayi Giles, Sonia Kurarra and [front] Rammey Ramsey and Mabel Juli. Image courtesy Amelia Stanwix.

Selection of unstretched artworks. Image courtesy  Amelia Stanwix .

Selection of unstretched artworks. Image courtesy Amelia Stanwix.

“I’m interested in the presentation of good contemporary art regardless of its origins. I wanted to re-connect with my Bus colleagues and with the people and art I had grown to know and appreciate in my time working with communities… I’m really enjoying being that conduit.”

Selection of works from the  Hanging Valley  stockroom. Image courtesy  Amelia Stanwix .

Selection of works from the Hanging Valley stockroom. Image courtesy Amelia Stanwix.

Hanging Valley offers Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists “a unique spread…not only commercial shows but also skills development and major partnerships with institutions across the globe”. It operates as a pop up of sorts – Kade prefers “finding a space to suit the show and the artist and…the viewer experiencing a new location and discovery for every show”. So far he has presented shows at No Vacancy and Chapman & Bailey (Melbourne), Praxis Artspace (Adelaide) and RAFT South (Hobart).

Installation view of Wukun Wanambi's 'Trial Bay' 2016, natural ochre on hollow Eucalyptus Tetradonta. Image courtesy  Hanging Valley , Melbourne.

Installation view of Wukun Wanambi's 'Trial Bay' 2016, natural ochre on hollow Eucalyptus Tetradonta. Image courtesy Hanging Valley, Melbourne.

Installation view of  Middle Distance , curated by Kade McDonald and Marie Falcinella,  praxis ARTSPACE , Adelaide, 2015. Image courtesy  Hanging Valley , Melbourne.

Installation view of Middle Distance, curated by Kade McDonald and Marie Falcinella, praxis ARTSPACE, Adelaide, 2015. Image courtesy Hanging Valley, Melbourne.

Kade had a very full calendar in 2016 – “possibly too full” – so this year he’s focusing on producing fewer, more significant shows. He’s just returned from the USA with Wukun Wanambi and Yinimala Gumana, two talented curators and artists from Yirrkala. Together they are embarking upon a “monumental touring exhibition” showcasing seven decades of Yirrkala bark painting, in collaboration with the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia. Kade, Wukun and Yinimala spent a month researching the collections of The Smithsonian (Washington DC) and the American Museum of Natural History (New York), assessing and selecting works dating back to the 1940s. “The project, titled Madayin, will consume a huge part of my life for the next few years!” Madayin will tour the USA from 2020.

Wukun Wanambi and Yinimala Gumana, two talented curators and artists from Yirrkala. Image courtesy  Amelia Stanwix .

Wukun Wanambi and Yinimala Gumana, two talented curators and artists from Yirrkala. Image courtesy Amelia Stanwix.

Wukun Wanambi. Image courtesy  Amelia Stanwix .

Wukun Wanambi. Image courtesy Amelia Stanwix.

Look out for upcoming Hanging Valley ventures – Kade has few on the boil in the US and NZ and is working on a residency / exchange project with Durrmu Arts in Peppimenarti, NT. Hanging Valley is certainly one to watch.

This post first appeared on The Design Files on 15 June 2017.

Installation view of  Sonia Kurarra  solo exhibition at  No Vacancy , Melbourne, 2016. Image courtesy  Hanging Valley , Melbourne.

Installation view of Sonia Kurarra solo exhibition at No Vacancy, Melbourne, 2016. Image courtesy Hanging Valley, Melbourne.