The art of NT
The Top End is full of amazing collections, whether you’re keen on Indigenous wood carvings or the history of the local Chinese population. Here are 11 must-visit venues for a culture hit.
Airorth Magazine - April/May 2019
Words by: Robin Kopf
Maruku Arts - Petermann (Uluru)
Owned and operated by Anangu artists, this gallery and art collective strives to keep their culture strong and accessible through paintings and punu (wooden carvings). Maruku Arts has a gallery and retail space in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, but it also hosts tours, demonstrations and workshops outside of the space, including a dot-painting workshop taught by an Anangu artist.
(08) 8956 2558
Paul Arnold Gallery - Darwin
Paul Arnold has travelled all over the Australian outback taking breathtaking photos that tell stories of his travels, inspired by the lovely colours and scenery of the bush. His gallery houses photos of Australia’s most amazing landscapes, including bird’s-eye-view shots taken while hanging out the side of an ultralight aeroplane. The gallery is open seven days a week, and if Paul is there, he’s happy to chat about his photographs and the incredible stories behind them.
Injalak Arts - Arnhem land
This arts centre is situated in the small community of Gunbalanya and has more than 200 members of Kunwinjku, Mengerrdji and Erre descent working around the building. Injalak Arts also gives tours of ancient rock art galleries and the sandstone that’s been painted over and over for thousands of years at Injalak Hill.
NT Chinese Museum - Darwin
The first Chinese labourers arrived in Darwin in 1874, and within just a few years’ time, they had become the largest non-Indigenous group in the Top End. The NT Chinese Museum honours this history and the contributions of its pioneers with photographs, artefacts, family history and art. The museum also covers the impact of World War II and the bombing of Darwin in February 1942. Closed for the wet season, the museum re-opened in March.
Yubu Napa Gallery and Studio - Alice Springs
Yubu Napa is a Bulgul phrase, meaning both “beautiful” and “to do the right thing”. Aside from marvelling at gorgeous paintings by Indigenous artists from around Central Australia and the Top End, visitors can interact with artists in the studio as they create their pieces - and even ask them about the stories behind their works. Yubu Napa Gallery provides a valuable cultural experience for people to learn more about authentic Indigenous art in a way that supports the artists.
Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre - Katherine
This is a gallery with a great deal of respect for the cultural diversity of the Katherine region, and does its part to display and honour Indigenous art and tell its stories. Opened in 2012, the centre has multiple galleries that showcase Indigenous art from the area, giving opportunities to local artists with smaller exhibitions. The goal of its ’two-way’ learning philosophy is to tell cultural stories that come from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.
Arlpwe Arts and Culture Centre - Ali Curung
Around 350 kilometres north of Alice Springs, the Arlpwe Arts and Culture Centre is made up of a gallery, two art centres and a pottery studio, where artists of the community can create, share their art with the public and keep the region’s culture alive for generations to come. The gallery features paintings, clap sticks, boomerangs and other artefacts. While the gallery and studio spaces are separate, there are occasional opportunities to watch and interact with artists as they work.
Araluen Arts Centre - Alice Springs
Opened in 1984 as a dedicated space for artistic achievement and experimentation in Alice Springs, the Araluen Arts Centre has collections of Indigenous, other Australian and wearable art as well as performances and film screenings. The arts centre was built around a 300-year-old corkwood tree and is the heart of the Araluen Cultural Precinct, which includes sacred Arrernte sites, public artworks and other arts buildings.
Tjanpi Desert Weavers - Alice Springs
Through the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, the Tjanpi Desert Weavers supports more than 400 female artists from 26 remote communities, running a gallery, weaving workshops and exhibitions in national galleries. Weaving baskets has historically been a job for women, and through the Tjanpi Desert Weavers they can continue this tradition, using natural fibres to make art. The artworks are available for purchase in the gallery and online, allowing these women
to financially support themselves.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory - Darwin
Since being rebuilt in 1981 at Bullocky Point, MAGNT has become a large and varied cultural centre, operating six sites around the Northern Territory. With 30,000 art and material culture items in its collection as well as 1.2 million natural history specimens, MAGNT is full to bursting, featuring exhibitions on rock art, maritime history, Indigenous art, other Australian art, palaeontology and much more.
Maningrida Arts & Culture - Arnhem Land
With a strong emphasis on ancestral connections to country, culture and belief systems, Maningrida Arts & Culture is dedicated to supporting a traditional art movement of contemporary Indigenous artists. Featuring a wide range of bark paintings, weavings, sculptures, musical instruments, paintings and more, the gallery continues to be part of maintaining the love and connection with artistic traditions that have lasted many thousands of years.
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