Mayor Ryan, CM Gunner mum on art gallery


Mayor Damien Ryan (pictured) has not responded to a question about whether he is supporting 10 traditional owners pushing for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery to be built in Alice Springs.
The TOs made public a letter from them tabled at a town council meeting by Cr Eli Melky on January 10, saying in the first paragraph: “Our families have concluded that while there is strong support for the NT Government to build a National Aboriginal Art Gallery at a suitable location in Alice Springs, we do not support the use of Anzac Oval site for that purpose.”
The letter prompted Chief Minister Michael Gunner to put the gallery project on hold for re-assessment.
On January 12 Alice Springs News Online emailed Mayor Ryan: “The 10 signatories of the letter rejecting the Anzac precinct site have made it clear they are supporting the concept of the gallery in Alice Springs, just not in that location.
“What steps are you taking to make that clear to the NT Government?
“Are you urging the NTG to now consider other sites for the project?”
We have not had a reply from Mayor Ryan.
p2354-michael-gunner-1On January 18 we emailed the minder of Chief Minister Michael Gunner (at left): “What has the consideration given by Mr Gunner to the future of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs produced to date?”
No reply.


  1. The Alice Springs Town Council should build and control the art gallery on the Melanka site. Alice tourism needs an urgent boost. Forget NT Government funds. Qantas has cancelled many flights into Darwin.

  2. I understand (or have at least heard) that the push for the Anzac Oval site has a lot to do with directing tourists to that end of the Mall, thereby benefiting local businesses.
    However, Aboriginal people, including the families of the artists (the artists being the raison d’etre for the gallery) might want to look at it from their own perspective.
    If the point is to celebrate Aboriginal art and culture, then it certainly starts with Albert Namatjira and his watercolour school but it doesn’t end there.
    For the watercolour artists were followed by the dot painters whose work we see in national and international galleries.
    But it didn’t end there either. These artists are only part (albeit a very important part) of the story.
    CAAMA Music contributed too to the cultural story, producing and promoting recordings by many well known and less known bands during the 80s and 90s. They still produce music.
    Then from Impaja (and CAAMA) there is Yamba the Honey Ant. She too is colourful and culturally important.
    Further down from CAAMA and Impaja is IAD Press, which has printed history books and Dreamtime stories of a 50,000 year old culture for past 40 years.
    So there are watercolour and dot artists, then there are recording artists and artists who write or illustrate books. They are all artists.
    The area of Gap Road and South Terrace is traditionally an Aboriginal cultural precinct.
    It should, out of respect, be kept together. An art gallery, built across the road from CAAMA and Impaja and up the road from IAD Press is a way of remembering and paying tribute to all those great artists whose colours in song and paint has put Alice on the tourist map.
    If Gunner and his mob and the Alice Springs council were sincere in wanting to honour these artists, they would build on or near the Melanka site.
    If the point of the gallery is just to be a money spinner for the town – build it on Anzac oval.

  3. Namatjira Art Collector makes a good case for building the National Aboriginal Art Gallery on the former Melanka site, provided that the site has the blessing of the traditional owners.
    The existing sacred trees on site could be respectfully incorporated into a unique design that demonstrates a real respect for our local indigenous culture and its artistic expression.


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