Masterpiece to be lost as gallery planning plods on


2499 Earth’s CreationBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Earth’s Creation, one of the most significant art works in Central Australia, looks like being lost to Alice Springs even as the preparations for the National Indigenous Art Gallery here are taking their plodding course.
Neither the NT Government nor the town council are interested in bidding for the work as it is going to auction in Sydney, where it has drawn huge interest and is expected to sell for at least $2m.
The masterpiece by the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye (below right), a massive 2.7 metres high and 6.3 metres wide, is or has been owned by local man Tim Jennings and it was on show in his Mbantua Gallery, corner Todd Mall and Gregory Terrace.
In 2007, Earth’s Creation became the first work by a female Australian artist and the first Aboriginal artwork to break the million-dollar mark at auction.
Minister for Tourism and Culture, Lauren Moss, when asked to comment, said “we will turn our attention to other critical aspects of the National Indigenous Art Gallery, including curation” but for now “we are focused on working with the community to determine the best possible location for the institution in Alice Springs.
2499 Emily Kame Kngwarreye OK“We will be developing an acquisition strategy to guide how we source significant works from right across the globe.
“We will certainly be considering acquiring works by Ms Kngwarreye as part of that process but curation and acquisition will need to be done in a strategic and planned way with the assistance of experts in this area.”
Mayor Damien Ryan says the council will not be bidding for the work because no decision to do so has been made.
The Australian National Museum’s website says that in “this masterpiece of grand proportions … her use of dots reaches its crescendo, with dots merging, separating and dominating in various configurations. They fuse together to create planes of colour structured into mobile shapes, or are choreographed to form lines that suggest dance movements.”
The 1994 painting has been referred to as the Blue Poles of Australia.
The artist was born in Utopia, Soakage Bore, north-east of Alice Springs, in about 1910 and died here in 1996.
Mr Jennings did not respond to requests for comment.
Images Australian National Museum.


  1. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Alice Springs watches as tourism dies. Make a decision and build a DRY place to show off these valuable artworks.

  2. This story highlights the question of what will be hung in the proposed National Indigenous Art Gallery.
    Do we really expect pieces acquired by other galleries around the nation and overseas, not to mention the many works held in private and corporate hands, to suddenly be donated?

  3. In future years, we will all wonder how the opportunity to acquire such an iconic artwork was lost, a work that would have raised the cultural status of Alice Springs above that of the average Australian regional centre.
    Sadly, we will have our lack-lustre political leaders to blame, at both local and Territorian level, for lacking foresight and failing to recognise that a big part of reviving our tourism industry is to make Alice Springs unique again.

  4. Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s Earth’s Creation should stay in the NT. Not because it will not be appreciated in other places, but because it attracts viewers from all over the world. Iconic and beautiful, this painting is a treasure.


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