All views about gallery location will be considered: Lauren Moss


2627 Moss Larapinta friends OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
“We will respectfully consider all views that are put forward” about the location for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery and its cousin, the National Aboriginal Culture Centre, according to Culture Minister Lauren Moss this morning.
But it seems the location will still need to be “at the centre of town”.
For most of the two-year wrangle about the positioning of the gallery, the Anzac Precinct was the government’s “preferred location” but last week Chief Minister Michael Gunner signalled a position swap with the Town Council’s civic centre can be considered.
But prominent Aboriginal leader Harold Furber, an initiator of the Culture Centre project, remains adamant about a location south of The Gap
Minister Moss spoke with the Alice Springs News Online this morning.
NEWS: The Aboriginal people have made it clear that they want the art gallery and the cultural centre south of The Gap. Are you going to take account of that?
MOSS: With all due respect there has actually been a whole rage of views about that, amongst the whole community, including the Aboriginal community. We will respectfully consider all views that are put forward.
NEWS: Is the business plan for the gallery ready?
MOSS: It is in the process of being finalised and will be out soon.
[The government initially promised the business plan would be ready before the end of November last year.]
NEWS: In a few days?
MOSS: Not in a few days. I’m sure I’ll have it within a month or so, and then we’ll be able to talk to the community about that.
NEWS: Does it contain a comparison of locations for the gallery? Will it deal with the respective desirability of the locations that have been put forward?
MOSS: The business plan will talk about the social, cultural and economic benefits of the gallery. That’s what its focus is on. We are obviously looking for locations where we can maximise all of the benefits in terms of putting art and culture, Aboriginal culture, at the centre of town, but also how we can maximise those economic benefits and those job opportunities. The plan will look at the institution itself.
Minister Moss – wearing her hat as the Tourism Minister – hosted a breakfast at the Overland Telegraph Station this morning for volunteer fire fighters helping during and after the disastrous bushfire in the West MacDonnell national park in January.
NEWS: Why were water bombers not used?
MOSS: Parks and Wildlife, the Department of Environment, Bushfires and the volunteer firefighting brigades have all had their debrief. I have asked for a full review of the response and where we could look to improve. I have not yet received that, what went well and what we can do better.
NEWS: You have facilities for water bombers in Darwin. I know you have none here. Will you be looking at putting such facilities here, for aircraft such as Hercules and B737s? They would have been able to deliver vast quantities of water to the fire when it was just six minutes’ flying time away.
MOSS: There is a fire management plan for the different parks estates. That is widely consulted on with stakeholders. That’s the plan we follow.
NEWS: Does it include the use of fire bombers?
MOSS: I would need to check that. I have requested a thorough review.
NEWS: There has been much criticism of the lack and type of preventive burning.
MOSS: Again, there is a fire management plan worked through with stakeholders. Mitigation is a really important part of that. There is a review into this specific response.
NEWS: What’s the best guess about the high value areas of the park affected by the fire, such as the big creek beds – Hugh River, Standley Chasm. Many trees have burned.
MOSS: I’ve just had a look at how extensive that fire was. It’s a credit to all of these guys [pointing at the fire fighters present this morning], over 80 respondents to the fires. There wasn’t loss of life or injury, no loss of infrastructure, but obviously across the landscape it has had a really significant impact.
NEWS: What’s your best guess about the percentage of the high value areas that have been hit?
MOSS: Again, there’s been a debrief and I have requested a review which I have not yet received.
NEWS: Can I have a copy when you get it?
MOSS: This is something we’re currently doing internally. I would need to consider the recommendations. That is standard across any of these types of events. I am very happy to keep talking to you about what comes up, what more we need to do across the area. I am very confident that these guys have done an incredible job, particularly protecting these tourism assets out there.
PHOTO (from left): MLA for Namatjira Chansey Paech, Andrea Celofega, Minister Lauren Moss, Karlee Foster, Sue Chambers and Valerian Celofega at the Overland Telegraph Station this morning.


  1. Do we need another art gallery? There are a dozen in town, and Araluen. What will happen to them? Closing down slowly!

  2. The Melanka site is best for tourism. Council to staff premises? Close to police for law and order control? Entry fee required to pay insurance?

  3. This debate and debacle over the location of a new Aboriginal Art Museum has caught the attention of some overseas gallery owners and collectors, who, with a little encouragement, might assist with the cost of construction.
    If this was to happen, presumably the gallery would be handed over to Aboriginal people to run, spelling the end of government intervention.
    I have had such a conversation with a New York art dealer, and he suggested that Aboriginal leaders canvas donations from various galleries and art philanthropists. It might be worthwhile.
    And of cause the gallery must be built in The Gap, (the old Melanka site?) that is a given. There is no need to distress local people with threats of demolishing heritage buildings, be they be the old ANZAC school or the iconic council building.
    Perhaps the structure itself should be given attention. Alice Springs does not need a building like the supreme court, but rather something affordable and stylish and Aboriginal in design.
    This is simply my own toying with the design issue, I expect others will have better ideas, but here are mine:
    Looking at a couple of my dot paintings, I translated some of the images into buildings, whose external walls are made of rammed earth (red ochre) and the interiors constructed from mainly reinforced, toughened and laminated glass i.e. architectural glass. If part of the ceiling was also glass, these buildings would appear to look like dot designs when viewed from above.
    The main building – the art gallery – is a dot painting of a waterhole.
    The interior walls are constructed from double-sided, near-to-ceiling architectural glass panels with door-sized breaks in each circle.
    The glass panels (opaque from the top to waist level, then clear to the floor) are set between round, white metal posts (which if looked at from above, would be the white dots).
    The legs of people viewing the artwork would appear as caterpillar legs, thus incorporating the Yeperenye theme.
    The artwork could be slipped in between the double glass from the top of the near-to-ceiling glass panels and the top secured with a strip of alloy for strength and security.
    Rather than jamming cafes, gift shops and working studios into one building, I thought that other dot painting symbols could be purpose-built structures.
    A Coolamon, using the same building material as the art gallery, could be the café and serve food using traditional native products. Kungas can Cook caterers might occupy this space.
    The garden is planted with bush tucker trees and bushes.
    A digging stick building might house a gift shop selling local art and craft make in another building modelled on a shield. This art and craft studio could fill the needs of local and bush art and craft people wishing to produce pottery, screen prints, silk scarves or artwork in a culturally appropriate place.
    More building modelled on other symbols could be added later.
    Having affordable buildings with an Aboriginal dot painting theme might just attract interest and money from overseas art philanthropists, as well as Australians interested in supporting such a project.
    But, as I say, this is just me thinking out loud … in print.

  4. If the proposed Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs is to have any credibility with the interstate and international visitor, it must respect and be in accordance with the wishes of the cultural group it seeks to showcase.
    Riding shotgun over their concerns about something as fundamental as location is, to say the least, not a good look.

  5. The obvious place is still in conjunction with Yirrara College.
    After all it’s their culture that is on display and they need to be involved in acquiring the skills need to manage it.
    I wonder how much longer it will be before powers that be realise that there is a whole new tourism province waiting out there south of The Gap where there is a captive market on the way in from the Airport or Uluru.
    I have directed a number of people to the airport fields in order to see camels, many from the Welcome to Alice rock, and on Tuesday last week 30 vehicles pulled in there in there in the hour or so I was there.
    Market research? Where is it? The fossil museum also is a vain attempt to bolster tourism numbers at that end of the Mall. Let’s see some numbers. In my opinion it should have been at Alice Springs Research Institute with the rest of the geological history, just as is happening at Richmond and Winton, and an integral part of a brand new tourism precinct.
    And what about the potential of Desert Knowledge Australia to demonstrate what is happening here in arid zone technology?

  6. Yes indeed, there needs to be an Aboriginal consensus about the site.
    If the CBD is to be revitaliised it needs people living in it, a gallery open 10-4 will not do much, permanent residents will do a lot more.
    What about the old drive-in?
    Pros and cons anyone?

  7. From time to time political commentary throws up a new and apt phrase. The one I’m thinking of is “nothing burger”.
    This whole art gallery shemozzle is looking more and more like a nothing burger.


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