Anger over $7.17m gallery design but Paech mum

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By ERWIN CHLANDA

Arts Minister Chansey Paech will not answer questions dealing with consultation about the design and construction of the so-called National Aboriginal Art Gallery.

We asked him this morning for names (not for publication) of the respondents to the consultation and what – in summary – each of them had said.

The answer from an NTG spokesperson was: “Consultations carried out to date are for the consideration of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery Project Working Group.

“A public information campaign is set to rollout during August and September.”

Interstate BVN Architecture, in collaboration with Alice firm Susan Dugdale & Associates, was awarded a $7.17m tender to design the NAAG in March 2022. The concept design unveiled last Friday is part of the design process, according to the spokesperson.

Our questions were prompted by a statement from Graeme Smith, CEO of the local native title organisation, that Ms Dugdale, was in charge of gauging opinions of Aboriginal people. He said he did not know so far what the result of this process had been.

Ms Dugdale referred us to the Department of Infrastructure, Planning & Logistics.

Meanwhile the News received 11 comments from readers – all of them negative towards the project.

Its proximity to Anzac Hill (arrow in illustration) has sparked angry responses.

The News disclosed on May 15 a government tender for a “Consultancy – Development and Implementation of a Fundraising Development Strategy” which revealed that the gallery is due to open in 2028.

10 COMMENTS

  1. What an eyesore to ruin a beautiful location. It does not suit the area. It might look good south of The Gap.

  2. Alexis de Tocqueville, known as the 19th century Frenchman who observed and wrote about early American democracy, warned democracies against “soft despotism”.
    He was thinking of a form of government that, instead of tyrannising people through threats of imprisonment, torture, and execution – hard despotism – would instead gently and gradually mould them into servility.
    It would do so, he wrote, by becoming “the sole agent and the only arbiter of their happiness, providing for their security, foreseeing and supplying their necessities, facilitating their pleasures, managing their principal concerns, and directing their industry”.
    By choosing and doing everything, it would render people less and less capable of making decisions and acting on their own.
    It would be like a parent, except that this paternalism seeks not to prepare people for adulthood but “to keep them in perpetual childhood”.
    This monstrosity is the perfect example of soft despotism. The NT Government gives people the illusion that they are in control, when in fact they have very little influence over their government.

  3. I really like Evelyne’s remarks. This “design” is an imposition on us living in town, so-called consultation did not happen in the open, and it is an affront to the sacred hill.
    So much money has already been wasted on “consultations”. Time to stop the folly!

  4. I quite like it. Blends in with the landscape which is the artscape.
    Who allowed the Supreme Court Building to ever be erected, I say!

  5. While I quite like the design I’m struggling to see any connection to Indigenous people’s culture.
    My first impression was that it closely resembles modern middle eastern architecture.
    I’m not sure that this will become a source of pride for the art heritage of the people it represents.

  6. I attended the recent Tourism Central Australia meeting at the Alice Springs Desert Park, during which Sera Bray, Senior Director of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, gave a presentation on this project.
    This was very much a case of preaching to the converted and there weren’t any significant new revelations, except for one point I was previously unaware.
    It’s very clear that the position of the gallery building has been shifted southwards so that it will be built on Anzac Oval, and not the site of the former Anzac Hill High School.
    This is a major departure from previous designs and assurances given by the NT Government, where the gallery building was to occupy the site of the high school and the “footprint” would marginally overlap the oval.
    The new design announced by the government completely eliminates Anzac Oval – it will be gone for good.
    It’s interesting that no-one so far has picked up on this point; and certainly the NAAG’s promoters are shtum about it.

  7. The sublime galleries of red gums in the Todd River continue to decline with recent fires. Old growth trees predate European colonisation and at the current rate of loss, relatively few of these will last another 50 years.
    These ancestor trees, the embodiment of family to local custodians, ecological assets and living sculptures to all who live here, are registered sacred sites.
    That they are being destroyed while the Government imposes this art gallery site on Arrernte custodians is an absolute disgrace.
    But don’t worry, we can preserve their culture in a box and keep commercial interests happy.
    Unfortunately great artistic traditions can only thrive if the natural environment and cultural connections are maintained and protected.

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