This Was August


I look forward every year to August … for two main reasons … one – it’s the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in Darwin and two – it’s much warmer in the north!

But seriously, the immersion in art and culture through the massive activities which have increased in number since my first NATSIAA back in 2003, the now memorable event where the major winner, the inimitable Richard Bell, wore a tshirt which caused quite an uproar, make it quite the event! They were heady days, and exciting too. I still get excited at attending these awards, and every year it is different.

This year, I decided to go to Darwin for an entire week instead of the standard four or five days and enjoy some down time in that beautiful warm balmy weather. Not to be! It was go from the minute I arrived.

Whereas it once was just the art awards held at MAGNT (The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory). Now there is DAAF (Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair), the Indigenous Fashion Parade, Salon de Refuse – showing the work that didn’t make the NATSIAA finals, exhibitions at Outstation Gallery, Paul Johnstone Gallery and satellite shows scattered through the town, and more.

Some of my favourite DAAF fashion parade photos:

A new outlet for the Injalak artists from Arnhemland called Provenance Arts opened, and as excited as I was to visit it, I didn’t get the time!! Ah, I’ll just have to go next year.

Then there is the annual and wonderful opening of the Tiwi Art Network exhibition. Many of you know that we have a strong association with the Munupi Artists from Melville Island (at Pirlingimpi – a place I have been lucky enough to visit several times). They, together with two other art centres on Melville and Bathurst Island come together with their annual exhibition to show the latest paintings from their hugely talented artists. These openings are truly an event not to be missed. The high energy and welcome from the Tiwi men and women in their separate dance styles and joint singing touches your central core and buoys you up incredibly. Love it! Some pics below – and the one where I caught up with the wonderful Francesca Puruntatameri – our special guest to South Fremantle representing the Munupi artists at our past Tiwi exhibitions.

A week passes quickly with visits to the art fair, networking with industry colleagues, updating contacts with our art centres and approaching new ones. It’s quite hard work! (you can see how hard in this photo!)

This year I came away with so much positive energy and feedback from our existing art centres, and some great contacts and exhibition ideas from art centres we have yet to work with, which fired me up totally!

While Arthur stays behind, looking after our home gallery and the house and pets, I’m sending through exciting reports back to him, and loading him up with ideas and work plans for 2019!

Heading south, I dropped in to Alice Springs on the way back to Perth, after all, if I’m going to be in the Territory I need to cover all bases. Refresh the connections, pick up some new paintings, plot and plan future shows and come back exhausted and inspired!!

Oh yes, and a day trip to Papunya – the birthplace of the Aboriginal art movement – from which I returned with a lovely selection of paintings, and put in a request for a few special paintings for our Women’s show next March. The photo below is of the road to Papunya to visit the Papunya Tjupi art centre, via Haasts Bluff – a really scenic route to take.

From there it’s onto the next show…. Our current SPRING SALON exhibition in York, WA… where I sit now… watch this space for the next blog …