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Art Centres are owned and operated by First Nations communities, for First Nations communities. 

Most Art Centres go way above and beyond their core professional art making studio role, leading important projects that provide personal, professional, and financial development opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and their communities. 

 

Words by Camilia Wagstaff, June 2023

Cover image: Artists on Country, Image Courtesy of Papunya Tjupi Arts.

Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation – known as MI Art – recently embarked on a project funded by Dementia Australia. Working with its Reference Group of Aboriginal artists living with dementia as well as their carers and families, the Art Centre is collecting evidence about the actions and policies that facilitate these artists actively remembering stories and places, and the creative practices that follow.

The Art Centre plans to prioritise engagement and social interaction on Country and through story, art and language. It will also fold in the experiences of studio staff, some of whom are carers and family, who work with the artists every day. An important aim of the project is to extend existing resources and make these available to other Art Centres in Far North Queensland. 

“Being part of the group of artists in the studio and painting her memories and stories is so important to my Mum,” says MI Art artist, artsworker and carer Bereline Joy Loogatha.

“She is always so much calmer and happier when she’s painting and yarning and everyone is really supportive and kind and she does have some fantastic stories too! This place keeps Mum grounded.”

Image Courtesy of MIArt Mornington Island Art.

Established in 2000, the Bindi Mwerre Anthurre Artists Studio in Alice Springs is the first of its kind to occupy the intersection between supported studio and Art Centre. Bindi Mwerre Anthurre Artists Studio works directly with Aboriginal artists living with a disability, fostering important opportunities for these talented artists to develop and receive recognition for their dynamic practices.

The Bindi Mwerre Anthurre Artists hail from communities across the Central Desert region. The creative processes are an expression of self and connection to Country – an act that sustains personal and cultural identity.

Yalpirakinu, Adrian Jangala Robertson, Acrylic on Canvas, 2023, 91x61cm, Photographer Liz Pedersen, Image Courtesy of Bindi Mwerre Anthurre Artists.

“The Art Centre is palya, it’s good,” says Bindi artist Billy Tjampitjinpa Kenda. “We come into the Art Centre to work. We’re making stories, dreaming, Aboriginal Dreaming.”

Based in Papunya, the birthplace of the Western Desert dot-painting movement, Papunya Tjupi Arts is well known for its strong cohort of emerging and senior female painters.

Recently, the Art Centre has seen great success with a dedicated men’s program. The collective began via an invitation from the senior female artists to mentor the young men in their art making endeavours, and a series of camp outs in 2018 focused on cultural maintenance.

In the past year, the Art Centre has seen more male artists coming in and engaging with the Art Centre, allowing for further intergenerational cultural exchange between senior artists and young men. A dedicated men’s exhibition later this year will debut many exciting emerging male artists alongside their senior counterparts experimenting with new mediums. Watch this space!

Image courtesy of Bindi Mwerre Anthurre Artists.

See you in August!

Save the date for the 18th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair:

9-11 August 2024

DAAF Foundation needs you!

Join the DAAF Foundation Family today by making a Tax Deductible donation, helping support our Art Centre members, artists and communities throughout the year.

Together we make a difference.

Photo by Wayne Quilliam

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