Thursday, July 25, 2024

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HomeIssue 3'Our' gallery: Will Gunner, Ryan slay the dragon stealing it?

'Our' gallery: Will Gunner, Ryan slay the dragon stealing it?

2536 Don Quixote2536 Sancho PanzaBy ERWIN CHLANDA

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, aka Michael Gunner and Damien Ryan, had better saddle up Rosinante and head south: Those evil dragons across the border are STEALING OUR National Indigenous Art Gallery!
They are even calling it the National Aboriginal Art and Culture Gallery, to be built on the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, nicknamed RAH. Rah, rah, rah!
On the way the Don will have lots of windmills to tilt at, between Port Pirie and Port Wakefield, while at home Dulcinea, aka Ms Wakefield, says she is taking charge – and by God, someone needs to because while we up here in La Mancha are having a nice old brawl over, well, almost everything, South Australia is galloping ahead at a pace Rosenante will have a job to match.
Today’s edition of the Adelaide online newspaper InDaily reports the pre-election pledge by then Opposition Leader Steven Marshall has become a post-election task for him as the Premier of SA. In fact the now Labor Opposition had made it clear it wants such a museum as well, as Cillín Perera reports in InDaily.
It describes him as a Harvard-educated Australian expat entrepreneur, philanthropist, photographer and art collector, a benefactor of the South Australian Museum and owner of nthspace (sic) Adelaide, surveying what has already been achieved south of the border.
2536 Adelaide gallery DulcineaMr Perera says the South Australian Museum (SAM) and the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) will need to get together for “an unprecedented opportunity to create the world’s foremost institution for the telling of the complete story, from past to present, of an entire genre of art”.
He writes: “The vast majority of Aboriginal art as we know it is contemporary. Evolving from the first dot painting on durable materials created in the 1970s, this movement is now continent-wide.
“From the larrakitj and yidaki of northern Arnhem Land and the lino-cut prints of far north Queensland, to the urban art of the capital cities, the genre is as rich and varied as any in the world … four decades of Aboriginal art on the contemporary scene were a long 40,000 years in the making.
“An enormous breadth of this work is represented in AGSA’s storerooms, which contain more than 1500 works.
“SAM’s crown jewels of more than 30,000 artefacts, housed in a leaky industrial building at Netley, round out the story’s foundations.”
That would make Dulcinea green with envy because the Alice Springs variety of the “national” gallery has no collection at all to date, unless the intention is to raid the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Mention has been made, however, of partnerships and borrowings.
Mr Perera writes the gallery “can do all the good for Adelaide that MONA did for Hobart – but only if we hold bold in our vision”.
On that score Dulcinea is starting from scratch, except for the revitalisation of coffee shops in the Mall type of vision.
“Australia has yet to establish a national Aboriginal arts or cultural institution. Interest has been expressed in other states but the cornerstone of any gallery will be its collection, for which Adelaide has the strongest case,” writes Mr Perera.
Alice Springs doesn’t get a mention in the InDaily comment.
“A big part of SAM’s world-leading vision is to create an open-storage archive, empowering communities to access their culture, feeding the roots of the art movement, and setting a powerful example to the nation of repatriation and reconciliation.
2536 Adelaide gallery 1“Such proposals don’t exist in a vacuum,” writes Mr Perera.
“Not only are we morally obliged as a nation to come to terms with Aboriginal reconciliation, but there are increasing pressures to acknowledge indigenous peoples globally.
“The potential flow-on from cultural tourism opportunities is more promising than ever. With worldwide tourist arrivals increasing 4-5%, the European Commission reports 40% of tourists choose destinations based on cultural offerings.
“The Australia Council has found cultural visitors spend twice as much money, with international tourists 10 times more likely than locals to visit Aboriginal art or culture displays, and five times more likely to visit Aboriginal sites or communities.
“This increased exposure also feeds the collector market, with a recent $2.1m Emily Kame Kngwarreye result and a dedicated Sothebys auction in London which this year forwent the customary Australian preview, deeming European interest sufficient,” according to Mr Perera.
That Emily Kame Kngwarreye, among many of the leading artists in the Aboriginal art movement, hail from the central deserts is not mentioned by InDaily.
2536 Adelaide gallery experts 1It reports nine local and international arts and business experts have today been announced as the jury for the Adelaide Contemporary design competition, as shortlisted design teams tour the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site.
It publishes a supplied photo (at right) of the contemporary jurors and shortlisted architects outside the Art Gallery of South Australia.
InDaily reports the jury will be chaired by Michael Lynch from the Sydney Community Foundation and arts company Circa. It so happens Mr Lynch was also a member of the steering committee for the Alice Springs project, the committee whose advice was so rudely rebuffed the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
The South Australian jury also features prominent South Australian arts figures including Art Gallery board chair Tracey Whiting, Art Gallery director Nick Mitzevich, deputy chair of the Australia Council for the Arts Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin and deputy chair of the Economic Development Board David Knox.
They will be joined by interstate and international arts leaders including Harvard architecture professor Toshiko Mori, associate curator of architecture and design at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Beatrice Galilee, renowned Australian artist Sally Smart, and Californian landscape architect Walter Hood.
The InDaily report says Mr Mitzevich today confirmed the institute had endorsed Stage 2 of the competition: “Given the fact we had 525 architects from around the world – from both internationally and interstate – in 107 teams, it really shows that the competition has been well received by the industry.
“The shortlisted teams reflect this, coming from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Tokyo, Copenhagen, New York and London.”
It will be a while until Don Quixote and Sancho Panza get to Adelaide and how they will be stopping the dragon is still entirely unclear.
IMAGES: Drawings – Wikipedia • Proposed centre – InDaily • Group of arts and business experts – InDaily.


  1. We have no design for the gallery, do not know what we will put in, no site yet and no money. Do we really hope to compete with Adelaide??
    Oh sorry I forget, we have a curator! And know how many tourists we will attract.

  2. In my opinion, the fact that Mr Gunner did not bid for Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s Earth’s Creation I, that was sold to art dealer Tim Olsen, who set up a gallery in New York, shows he did not have intention to build the gallery.

  3. With so many anti-progressive pissants in town, this place is doomed to become another fuel stop on the way to Adelaide.
    Most of the arguments against the plan were irrelevant because the people making them failed to educate themselves.
    Loss of greenspace and access were the main gripes and neither were actual issues because we would have better, more accessible greenspace.
    Plenty of people support the plan but have been shouted down and are afraid of the angry mob who just want to fight against anything the government puts forward and then complain that the government doesn’t do anything.
    Bloody rent a crowds protesting everything and achieving nothing.
    ANZAC Oval is a wasted site. It is prime location in the CBD which I cannot use because it has a bloody great fence around it.
    I can’t use the greenspace along the Todd because of the wasted itinerants. Greenspace is only useful if you can access it.
    And you [people] who complain you werent consulted … if you take yourself off the grid, proud that you dont watch TV, read the paper, antisocial media etc … how is anyone supposed to consult with you?
    You were complaining you werent consulted … during the consultation period! You exist to complain!

  4. Can anyone tell me what Gunner is going to do (or has done) for Alice Springs since coming into power, besides the normal Government actions?
    I know he keeps talking about this gallery that will probably be canned anyway as the Commonwealth Government haven’t committed a cent or even hinted that they would.
    Last time I checked the NT were willing to put in $50m and they wanted the Commonwealth Government to put another $100m in.
    That’s ignoring the people’s feelings about the site. Keeping in mind this gallery won’t even be built till after the next election, by then the Opposition will be in power and they will can it.
    All this talk around the gallery is distracting us from asking questions about what they are really doing for us, and I mean really doing and not pitching dreams.

  5. Russell, if you want to insult without real knowledge of what you accuse others, put your name; unless you are using reverse mirror and accuse others of your own sins.
    My grandfather a venerable elder used to say to us: “Do not get upset by insults, remember that the spit of a toad cannot reach a white dove.”
    PS: I have a bachelor of diplomacy which means I can say the most nasty things in a nicest way.

  6. For some years the best and most sustainable tourism has been found to be about providing “an experience” not just something to look at.
    If located in a unique landscape giving proper context to a National Aboriginal Art Gallery and Cultural Centre we can easily compete with a recycled hospital site in Adelaide no matter who designs the building.
    We have no hope of competing for the money to build it or the tourists if we want to shove our offering out of site behind a performance stage and green watered grass.
    Marketing is about stressing your USP (unique selling point).
    Apart from showing some respect to the Aboriginal cultural needs and the heritage value of the site to the whole community, it is time the government applied some very basic economic and marketing principals to this issue.
    Stop putting unnecessary obstacles in the way by insisting on a site so totally unsuitable in every way.

  7. Janet, I understand and respect your desire, but even the Queen says we would like!
    I want is authoritarian like a child having a tantrum. Can I add: “I do not like the idea, because 40,000 square meters would completely shadow the Totem theatre (probably next in the line of fire) and the senior club building. Some seniors on wheelchairs will have problems in maneuver in the lawn.
    On the top of it Aborigine custodians do not want it there for cultural reasons; their land and their rights.


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