UPDATE, May 19, 2012: Alice Prize: a journey through art of 'the time we are in'
Go to FULL STORY for Kieran Finnane's walk through the art with the Alice Prize judge.
The Pintupi artist Yukultji Napangarti – one of the so called Lost Tribe of nine people whose first contact with the outside world was in 1984 – has won the Alice Prize with a hypnotic untitled work that "elevates paint on a surface to something sublime".
So said judge of the prize, Nick Mitzevitch, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia.
"To me that's what great painting is all about," he said.
This is the 37th Alice Prize, one of Australia's oldest contemporary art prizes, open to artists from around the country. Presented by the Alice Springs Art Foundation it opened tonight at Araluen and will be on display till June 10.
Mr Mitzevitch regarded Napangarti's painting as "by far the most sophisticated and superior work in the exhibition", and this despite the standard of the prize, and painting in particular, being "generally high".
He said the work "sums up what landscape painting is really about in the 21st century", even though it draws on thousands of years of Indigenous tradition.
Yukultji Napangarti and her family occupy a special place in Australian history, being the last known nomadic people to 'come in' from the desert, making contact with other Pintupi people in the tiny settlement of Kiwirrkurra in Western Australia in 1984. Her three brothers have also gained recognition as artists.
KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured, top: Yukultji Napangarti. Photo courtesy Papunya Tula Artists. At right: The winning work (detail). The artist's statement says the lines represent the sandhills surrounding the waterhole and soakage site known as Yunala, as well as the tubers of the silky pear vine, also known as yunala.
In the global economic downturn all artists are doing it tough. How will the Aboriginal art industry ride it out? A CRC project will attempt to come up with some answers.
In any picture of the Aboriginal economy, especially on remote communities, the art industry would have to be seen as the shining light, for the way that it has engaged large numbers of people, bringing them purpose, cultural prestige, income and opportunity. So why is it, in particular, the subject of a seven year research project by the CRC for Remote Economic Participation?
It's not the only focus for the CRC of course – there are 12 research areas all up – but Aboriginal Art Economies is a flagship project with a $1.5m budget and will run for the entire seven years of the CRC's life, with the final years devoted to "rolling-out" the research findings in practical ways.
Perth-based research leader Tim Acker has hands-on experience of the industry stretching back 15 years. He was for instance a manager of the famous Warlayirti Artists in Balgo, WA and more recently was one of the co-founders of the Canning Stock Route Project.
Mr Acker acknowledges that the Aboriginal art industry is the "single most obvious and long-term success story to come out of remote Aboriginal Australia", but he says it is still "characterised at pretty much every point by some form of fragility": "The way art is produced, the community circumstances, the art centres, the connections between artists and galleries, the GFC and the overall downturn in the art market in the last few years, all those things have put into sharp relief that there is nothing fixed about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art sector."
And some of fragility has come about because the industry it has been "too successful", he says. For example, there are issues of over-supply and in this regard, the marketing of art on the internet has been a double-edged sword. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured above: Nancy Nyanyarna Jackson working on her painting in the Warakurna Artists studio. Photo by Rhett Hammerton
The volatile debate on alcohol reform turns largely on the volume of consumption and how various measures affect it.
Trouble is, the stats are seen to present an incomplete picture as they do not capture the apparently growing online and mail-order purchases that come to the consumer direct from interstate.
Said Deputy Mayor Brendan Heenan during the recent local government election campaign: "There are statistics that less alcohol is being sold now. I don’t believe them. Go to the post office and watch how much alcohol comes in, pallets and pallets of mail orders from south now, tonnes of the stuff, every day."
The Alice Springs News Online requested information from the NT Justice Department at about noon yesterday. It has not yet been provided. When it comes to hand we will update this report.
Blair McFarland, manager of CAYLUS (Central Australian Youth Link Up Service) which campaigns strongly on substance abuse issues , says so far as he knows, figures about alcohol obtained from interstate by mail order and online are not included in the NT consumption statistics, which – again, so far as he knows – represent wholesale trade in the NT.
Mr McFarland says, relying on figures interstate, the online and mail order proportion is around one percent of the total.
Prominent alcohol activist and medical doctor, John Boffa says: "The short answer is that only some of the sales are included when the wine company or other company is registered in the NT.
"[The government does] not have a way of monitoring all of the internet sales." ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: The yard of the Alice Springs post office which, some claim, transports large quantities of alcohol not accounted for in NT consumption statistics.
UPDATE May 10, 12:40pm: The NT Department of Justice has now provided a partial response to questions we asked yesterday.
They were: Does the department have figures of alcohol obtained via mail order or online, and delivered via Post Australia?
If you do please supply them to me.
Are mail order or online purchases of alcohol from interstate and delivered to the buyer direct captured in the NTG stats made public?
Answer: DoJ is aware of small amounts of alcohol being purchased over the Internet. These amounts are insignificant in comparison to the 2.73 million litres of pure alcohol sold in 2010.
Online retailers can use the Banned Drinkers Register (BRD) online and since its launch on 26 March, three interstate licensees have adopted the system with the first sale recorded on 8 May 2012.
Follow-up questions to the department: That clearly means that the government does not know the quantities and they are not reflected in the NT alcohol statistics; is that so? How many mail order and online retailers from interstate are supplying the NT?
UPDATE May 10, 4:20pm:
The department replies: Whilst we don’t know specific quantities, from discussions with cartage agents, especially in Alice Springs, quality bottled wine is being purchased in very low quantities in comparison to what is sold in the Territory.
The majority of online liquor sellers don’t sell into the NT. Coles and Woolworths despatch their online liquor sale products from the NT and so already use the BDR. In developing the BDR online, we wrote to 10 organisations that offer online liquor sales into the Territory – including Coles and Woolworths, letting them know that the BDR was available online.
Some people in this town seem to be on a permanent quest to find new ways to hurt themselves.
As sniffable fuel and paints have been made harder to come by, anti-perspirant sprays seem to be the latest craze.
I collected these cans in the laneway at the rear of my home in the Old Eastside, in the space of a few days during last week.
The back row of spray cans appeared in just one day, and I came across a young Aboriginal girl sitting by the fence as she was sniffing the last one.
She didn't seem to be affected much but perhaps she hadn't been alone sniffing all of them.
The remainder I collected over the next three days. The small "Playboy" spray can and the cut-off VB can I picked up in the Todd River. This ties in with Blair McFarland's alert over this issue last week when about 100 of these spray cans were picked up, mainly in the vicinity of K-Mart.
This sniffing outbreak seems to be over, I've not come across any more spray cans this week. ALEX NELSON reports.
It was apparently a normal day after the weekend before at the Alice Springs Magistrates Court, perhaps a little busier given that this was a long weekend. The word was also that there had been a recent royalty payment that had brought people into town.
The police prosecutor arrived in Courtroom Two with a trolley as big as a baby buggy, full of files. These were the fresh matters. The files in the stands on bar table were the matters already scheduled (13 domestic violence, two Smart Court, 59 criminal, and 11 Youth Court).
Half of the defendants were in the watchhouse, Magistrate John Birch was told. Only one lawyer is allowed in at a time, so there was a bottleneck with the paperwork. That was hardly surprising, said Magistrate Birch, given that there were 150 people on the list!
Defence lawyers, from Legal Aid and Aboriginal Legal Aid, milled around, attempting to bring matters on.
There was confusion over files. The court orderly was sent in search of other defence lawyers, returning to report that she couldn't find them. She also had to announce numerous non-appearances. Some of these matters were dealt with anyway ("ex parte"), the offenders convicted and fined, their files put away. Many matters were adjourned to allow time for defence lawyers to make representations to police prosecutions; others because the facts of the matter were to be contested.
In the midst of all this, some parties appeared and matters were heard – sorry tales that flesh out some of the offending behind the 'law and order' debate, tales of people, young and not so young, male and female, and their failings. On this day and for as much of the list as I observed all of the defendants were Aboriginal. This is not always the case. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Falling on hard times in Alice Springs these days isn't exclusive to the usual suspects: a pregnancy or an accident can turn a two-income family into a single income one, and the town's exorbitant rents can tip that family into crisis.
"The poor can't buy a house here.
"It doesn't take much for repayments becoming too hard, or heating and power bills," says Captain Michael Johnson who with his wife Elizabeth, also a captain in the Salvation Army, heads up that stalwart aid organisation in The Centre.
They're gearing up for their annual doorknock on May 19 and 20, and are still looking for volunteers (call them on 8951 0200).
The Salvos in Alice will be spending more than $1m this year, as usual "way more" than the doorknock yields, says Capt Johnson.
The local Salvos run two men's hostels which are "pretty well always full". ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Captains Michael and Elizabeth Johnson in the Salvos' Thrift Shop.
SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE, FURTHER UPDATE: Youth in court should not have been in Alice Springs at time of alleged offending.
A youth charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle – the same stolen vehicle that was allegedly used in relation to the alleged sexual assault of two European tourists last week – should not have been in Alice Springs.
The youth had come before Magistrate Greg Borchers in March on other matters and was ordered to live at an outstation with his grandparents, and not to leave unless he was ill, had permission of his parole officer or was in the company of those grandparents.
Today the court heard that the youth was arrested at another grandmother's house at a town camp in Alice Springs.
Magistrate Borchers, hearing a mention of the unlawful use of a motor vehicle charge in the Youth Justice Court today, urged the police to give "serious consideration" to charging the grandmother for "complicity" in assisting the youth to breach orders of the court.
Another youth, charged with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of deprivation of liberty as well as a string of other offences, appeared briefly before Magistrate John Birch also in the Youth Justice Court today. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Red tape may scuttle a 50 years old institution.
Alice Springs folk turned out in their thousands, as participants and spectators, for the annual Bangtail Muster this morning, as though to show the world that the community in the heart of Australia is alive and well.
The town once again has had devastating world wide publicity after the alleged rape of two overseas tourists, and a string of other brutal crimes.
But on this May Day holiday, blessed by the town's trademark magnificent weather, young and old turned out to celebrate the achievements of Alice Springs – its great sporting clubs, child care, schools, music and above all, community spirit.
There was also a sprinkle of trade union members to mark Labour Day.
"Our Community" was the theme picked for this year by the organisers, the Rotary Club of Alice Springs. 40 floats were entered.
The Muster is their annual fundraiser for the local Youth Centre and is one of the Centre's major events.
The story behind the Muster goes back to the old days when cattle production was the main industry of the Centre and stockmen would cut off the ends of the tails to record the number of cattle mustered.
Pictured is Celine Ociones, 17, carrying a statue of Santo Nino, the holy child, Little Jesus.
She leads 21 dancers and musicians from the Mabuhay Multicultiral Association which has about 60 local families as its members.
Meanwhile, the Rotary Club of Alice Springs this year ran the Bangtail Muster parade at a loss, probably the first time in its 50 year history, because of NT Government requirements for a traffic management plan and licensed staff to implement it. Story and video by ERWIN CHLANDA.
What work among the 65 Alice Prize finalists caught the unpackers' eye? Now we have the answer.
It's Train, a digital archival print (pictured above), 1.7m wide, by Bronek Kozka from Victoria.
Announcing the unpackers' choice, a first for the prize, the Alice Springs Art Foundation says this artwork "requires close examination to fully engage with the clever imagery it contains".
They quote from the artist's statement: “. . . this image uses portraiture as a window to examine the aesthetics, the technologies and the people of the future.”
The exhibition opens at Araluen next Friday, May 11.
A youth was charged in Alice Springs Youth Justice Court this morning with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent.
He was remanded in detention and the matter was adjourned to July 2.
The police prosecutor stated about 24 further charges would be laid and applied for an extended brief, which was granted.
The defence lawyer made application to close the court, which the prosecutor said he would not oppose. Magistrate David Bamber heard the application in closed court but ruled against it.
However he suppressed the youth's name and all details tending to identify him, due to his age and the nature of some of the offences.
The youth's father was in court. The youth looked across at him a couple of times but otherwise kept his eyes on the floor.
Other charges against him include aggravated entering a dwelling with the intent to commit an offence, two counts of stealing, aggravated unlawful use of a motor vehicle, damage to property, aggravated robbery and two counts of deprive a person of personal liberty. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: The Youth Justice Court (formerly the site of a pizzeria).
A committee of the Alice Springs Chamber of Commerce has hand balled the proposal for a national indigenous art and culture center to Tourism NT, which appears to have put it on the back burner.
Liz Martin, who runs the highly successful National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Sprigs, says the town may lose a major opportunity to Queensland where she understands a similar project is being mooted, apparently assisted by major mining interests.
"We should grab it by the horns and run with it," says Cr Martin who serves on the town council's Tourism, Events and Promotion Committee and was its chair person for the last three years of the 11th Council.
Says Tourism NT CEO John Fitzgerald: "Tourism NT has not taken over planning of the proposed centre."
Pictured: The sensational Canning Stockroute exhibition which enthralled visitors in Canberra and Sydney and indicated what a major national indigenous museum could be like, and what it could do for Alice. Photo by Tim Acker, Canning Stock Route Project. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
This coming Saturday marks exactly one year since I arrived in Alice Springs. I rolled into town in the morning and in the afternoon headed out to Ross River for the Wide Open Space festival.
I remember feeling rather overwhelmed by the colourful crowds after a solid six months at a rather remote truck stop further up the track. In the end I met a couple of amazing women and the journey that this last year has been was off! I’m happy to be marking the anniversary by being a part of the festival. This time I’m operating a coffee cart and the buzz and frenzy of last minute organistion is setting in, with lists that seem to get longer the faster I tick things off!
It’s recently been a pleasure to watch Alice Springs 'warming up' in this cooler weather with the arrival of visitors and Wide Open Space festival-goers. I’ve noticed the town’s benches are now rarely empty, often occupied by visitors having a snack, a chat or a coffee. I looked down the mall the other day and saw in the bright light quite a number of people wandering around, looking to check out the sights. More than a couple of times I’ve been waved down by a map and with gestures and finger-pointing sent people off in the right direction, I think!