Friday, July 19, 2024

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HomeVolume 28Gallery spin continues

Gallery spin continues


The government spin around the so-called “flagship National Aboriginal Art Gallery” in Alice Springs, now with Minister Chansey Paech at the helm, is continuing.

After years of controversy and conflict, richly documented by the Alice Springs News, the Darwin based and overseas owned and controlled NT News published a concept design with drawings, a video and statement from Mr Paech at 7:02 this morning.

It claims as an “exclusive” the story reporting, in the past tense, that the minister “revealed the plans for the four-level gallery on Friday”.

Today is Friday. So when did they do the story?

Mr Paech (pictured) and his government’s handling of the gallery project all along may have been a dog’s breakfast, but time travel is clearly a new string to their bow: The photo of Mr Paech in the NT News, unveiling a picture of the planned gallery, was taken in bright daylight, yet apparently made its way into the Darwin tabloid after being snapped, laid out in the paper and printed all before the sun rose. Wow.

Asked about the gallery’s location Mr Paech “emphasised”, according to the NT News, that “the government had heavily consulted with local community groups and organisations including Lhere Artepe”.

The CEO of the native title organisation, Graeme Smith, may well wonder if discussing location with him is the next stop in the Minister’s time travel.

The News saw today’s significant event as a reason for asking major organisations: “What consultation by the NT Government has taken place with you or your organisation about the proposed design for the so-called National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs announced today?”

Mr Smith said the concept design process of the Aboriginal project released today is “none of my concern.

“That’s a concern for the NT Government. It’s their project. I have not seen a concept design after consultation.”

He says he has not seen the concept design released today.

Lhere Artepe’s advice to local architect Sue Dugdale had been to consult with the traditional owners, and he does not know whether she has or has not, nor what the results have been.

The News will ask Ms Dugdale, a prominent local professional, about her survey.

The results of her consultation did not get a mention in the NT News story nor in Mr Paech’s handout that the rest of us journos finally got at 1:22 pm.

It is likely we would have asked questions about results of Ms Dugdale’s general consultation had Mr Paech held a media conference rather than giving the Murdoch paper a free kick.

Mr Smith says the native title body’s board had expressed the view that the building should fit within the landscape: “That was our consultation, but Lhere Artepe is not putting any resources into this consultation process. We did not.

“I was not going to use one staff member, or one vehicle, or one second of my resources, to [conduct] consultation about concept design for the art gallery. That was nothing I was prepared to get into.”

The Central Land Council said: “Sera Bray gave our executive committee a presentation of the gallery design and concept this week.”

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress said it did not wish to comment.

The Town Council said: “Council was not involved in the design of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery that was released today.”

We’re still waiting for a reply from Tangentyere whose media person was away.

So here we’re stuck with Mr Paech’s blather and numbers: Territory Government $69m. Australian Government $80m.

“The gallery will showcase the stories and artwork of one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures, brought together under one roof in the spiritual heart of the nation and the birthplace of contemporary Aboriginal art.

“Features of the gallery include a cultural welcoming circle, top floor event space with spectacular views, healing gardens, ground floor cafe, Kwatye (water) Play and an impressive four-level atrium.”

And so on.

IMAGE: Present plans put the gallery next to Anzac Hill (Untyeyetwelye, arrow), an important Arrernte sacred site which caused significant controversy.


  1. I and many local people and the custodians are against the building of the art gallery on the ANZAC site. Build it south of the Gap.

  2. I can read above: Mr Smith says the native title body’s board had expressed the view that the building should fit within the landscape.
    How does this elephantine heavy building shown in this article fit in the landscape? I wonder.

  3. What an absolute eyesore! It doesn’t blend into the landscape at all! It’s the same as the new Court House. An eyesore that doesn’t get used.

  4. Thank you Maya. I was scratching my head as to how to describe the depicted monstrocity.
    Albeit unfair to elephants, elephantine will do quite nicely.

  5. I am with you 100%. It looks like a medieval castle in fact like the Château Gaillard of my youth (=)

  6. The cultural welcoming circle will look interesting considering the cultural custodians aren’t welcoming the gallery to this “culturally inappropriate site”. Also I saw Mr Paech said he wanted the gallery to be a place of truth-telling, that will also be interesting when he tells us the truth of why the gallery has to be built at this site despite the recommendations of the government’s expert panel and the opposition of so many in town including, of course, the Mparntwe-arenye custodians.

  7. How can such an ugly building house an art collection?
    It matches the Supreme Court as an affront to the Alice Springs environment and gives a very good reason to situate this monstrosity well out of town.

  8. First impression is that the proposed NAAG gallery takes the cake as one of the most revolting design concepts I’ve ever seen.
    It is a temple to conceit and arrogance on a scale that is absolutely befitting of a jurisdiction that promotes itself way beyond what is remotely credible.
    However, it fits brilliantly in the long march of grand projects and designs that dishonourably pockmark the long discredited experimental failure that calls itself “NT self-government” – the casinos, major hotels, Yulara, the Alice Springs Desert Park, the Desert Knowledge precinct, the railway to Darwin, ad nauseam.
    Not one of these major projects have come close to delivering the visionary economic bonanza touted as essential for underpinning the NT’s development. Not one.
    There is a noteworthy shift in the demographics of the Territory’s politics that foster these loss-making ventures.
    In the past such projects were characteristic of a long-dominant CLP government comprised of a majority of members who came from interstate or overseas; but these days the exact same style of grandiose, over-hyped big-ticket projects are the hallmark of a long-entrenched Labor government featuring many members born and educated here in the Territory.
    Historically, there is no real distinction to be noted between the two sides of NT politics.
    Equally, the madness remains the same – as the old saying goes, the definition of insanity is when the same method is used repeatedly while expecting a different result each time.

  9. The government isn’t as silly as we think. I suspect the proposed building is a nuclear bunker masquerading as an art gallery.

  10. The building represents a Coprolite, the fossilised faeces of animals that lived millions of years ago.

  11. The video presentation shown on the ABC site is a piece of fanciful digital propaganda.
    It is about as far from “a design” as I can imagine.
    The little bits of detail I could make out would seem to provide very little space to actually hang visual art work.
    You are correct Alex, this is the typical NT Government “development by wishful thinking”.
    I would love to see the calculations that produced the numbers and dollars touted.
    And pigs might fly!
    Think of a number, multiply by ten, and then double it for good measure.
    And we are back to the question of why the Gunner Government insisted on this site?
    Against the recommendation of the expert panel.
    There is at least some similarity between the Desert Park precinct site and the alternative Desert Knowledge precinct.
    And the risible “rejuvenate the Mall” is all we’ve got.
    And Paech is pushing this crap!
    Shame on you Chansey!

  12. Differently abled access???
    Where does a “predicted 53,000 visitors annually” come from? Algorism calculations?
    What other concept designs were considered? People’s Choice???
    Territory Labor stumbling from one disaster to another … shame really. They could have had it all (integrity included).


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