This is the bottom line of Alice Springs tourism – declining since 2005, nosediving in 2011, flat as a pancake since then, but Tourism Minister Matt Conlan thinks he's doing a fine job. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
CLARIFICATION: Hetti Perkins did not use the word 'national' when she made these comments on a "cultural centre or some form of facility in Alice Springs". See FULL STORY.
Plans for a national Indigenous culture centre in Alice Springs are progressing behind the scenes, prominent Indigenous art world figure, Hetti Perkins, told the crowd at the opening last night of annual Desert Mob. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
From Aboriginal art centres across the deserts comes one of the most significant interfaces between Central Australia and the rest of the world. KIERAN FINNANE reports from Desert Mob, the exhibition and the symposium.
Pictured:Warmurrungu by Nyarapayi Giles, Tjarlirli Arts.
The sweeping energy of great geological movements, at the same time as the solidity of the forms created: no easy task to resolve in paint, yet he does it. Adrian Robertson, who paints at Bindi Art (Mwerre Anthurre Artists) in Alice Springs, has several modestly-sized yet striking canvasses holding their own in Talapi’s Desert Colour show, alongside large works by reputed artists of the APY Lands. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The much talked about decline in the art market seems to be reflected in sales from Desert Mob, the flagship annual exhibition from Aboriginal art centres across the central deserts, presented by the Araluen Arts Centre and Desart. Opening weekend sales were down by more than $125,000 from last year – $206,435 compared with $332,175. However the gap has closed somewhat with sales continuing steadily.
What really got the weavers going was thinking about the nature of eagles, how they care for their families. They were camped not far from Amata, the home community for several of them, in the APY Lands of South Australia's far north and were working on a commission from Tandanya, the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide.
Nyurpaya Kaika-Burton's husband would come along to the camp every day and bring the women meat, including the favoured bush turkey. They ate the flesh and used the feathers in their weaving. Nyurpaya would think her husband was just like an eagle that goes out hunting meat for his whole family.
Hunting is what the eagle does best, he is an expert hunter and great provider – that's what the women like about eagles, what they admire in them.
"Our good men are just like the good eagles, they bring the meat home."
Several of the Tjanpi weavers travelled into Alice Springs, to speak at a forum on Monday about experimentation and innovation in desert arts. The presence of a skilled translator, Linda Rive, and the stimulus of a slide show that documented their artists' camp and the development of the work, allowed them to relate in rich detail their experience of this commission, with the final work currently showing at Tandanya.
What was particularly compelling was to hear about the thinking behind the work: their woven birds are much more than objects to delight the eye. They draw on the strength of their ancient culture and its lessons for everyday living, perhaps never so poignantly relevant as now.
KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured, top: Tjanpi weavers from Amata with their finished 'big birds', from left Nyurpaya Kaika, Yaritji Young, Paniny Mick (obscured), Ilawanti Ken and Naomi Kantjuriny. • At right: An eagle brings home the meat for its young. Painting by Ilawanti Ken. Photos courtesy Tjanpi Desert Weavers.
If some businesses are closing in Alice Springs, others are opening and others still, adapting to the times. In the middle of the Todd Mall, former curator at the Araluen Art Centre, Kate Podger, is opening an art gallery in the venue vacated by Peta Appleyard. There's also movement on the corner of the mall and Parsons Street, at the site of the QC restaurant which closed some time ago following a fire.
On the fringe of the mall, in Todd Street, while a tourist business has recently closed, Rocky's has opened a gelato bar, and while his internet cafe has closed, Cameron Buckley has refocussed on his coffee shop, expanding its offerings, giving people more reasons to go there. Pictured: Top – Kate Podger and staff member Peter Astridge working on the hang of large works from Tjungu Palya in the new gallery. Below – Cameron Buckley in his coffee shop (he's holding a polaroid photo of himself in his coffee shop). KIERAN FINNANE reports.