Northern Territory

Desert mob opening weekend success

More than 6000 people attended the launch and opening weekend exhibition of Desert Mob 2017 – a huge success that has ensured remote galleries gain national exposure and opportunities to sell their artwork – Minister for Tourism and Culture Lauren Moss said.

Held at the Araluen Arts Centre, Desert Mob 2017 saw 100 works at a total value of $344,605 purchased across the opening weekend, an increase of $40,000 from last year’s opening weekend.

“The Territory Government is investing in the arts industry of Central Australia as a significant tourism and job boosting attraction of the region,” Ms Moss said.

“It was wonderful to celebrate the 27th Desert Mob with the artists at the Araluen Cultural Precinct. A lot has evolved in the arts and tourism industry in 27 years and this event has led the way for so many Aboriginal art fairs and art festivals around the country.

“We look forward to building upon Araluen’s success and maximising the key national and international opportunities for arts tourism, by establishing an Iconic National Indigenous Art Gallery and an Iconic National Indigenous Cultural Centre here in Alice Springs, the beginning of the National Indigenous Arts Trail.”

Desert Mob was officially opened by four artists from Iwantja Arts, who travelled from their community in Indulkana, located in the far north east of South Australia in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, including Peter Mungkuri the recent winner of the inaugural $100,000 Hadley’s Art Prize and Albert Namatjira’s great-grandson, Vincent Namatjira.

Several hundred Aboriginal artists attended the opening of the Desert Mob exhibition, having travelled across the desert regions of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory to experience the weekend’s events.

Araluen Cultural Precinct Director Dr Mark Crees said an enthusiastic audience of art lovers from around the country flocked to the Araluen Arts Centre with avid collectors camped out from 1:30pm to be the first through the doors to acquire the best of the artworks for sale.

“Social Media has continued to play an important part in 2017 with art lovers from New York and Switzerland seeing works for sale on Instagram and making contact with Araluen in order to purchase major works.

“The Araluen Arts Centre acquired five artworks for the Araluen Art Collection, increasing its holdings of significant artworks from the Central Australian contemporary Aboriginal Art movement, with the Commonwealth Government’s Artbank acquiring four works for their collection,” Dr Crees said.

The Desart-run Desert Mob Symposium, held on Friday 8 September 2017, welcomed artists from across the country including a presentation by the senior artists who contributed to the senior men’s collaborative artwork commissioned by the Australian War Memorial.

The work contextualised the defence of country from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience, of both service within recent armed conflict and their own protection and defence of country for 40,000 years.

The Desert Mob MarketPlace on Saturday 8 September 2017 drew more than 2,000 people to Araluen to purchase artworks from over 30 remote Aboriginal art centres.

“The MarketPlace had a wonderful festival atmosphere in 2017 after such a successful exhibition opening and full-day Symposium the days beforehand and provided an economic boon for remote art centres with eager buyers travelling to Alice Springs specifically to purchase artwork and taking back hundreds of works to their respective homes across the country,” Dr Crees said.

“Desert Mob is the most important gauge of what is currently taking place in the contemporary aboriginal art movement from Central Australia and the surrounding regions, presenting exceptional works of art that demonstrate the strength, vibrancy and variety of this movement,” stated Dr Crees.

“It is the only event of its kind with artists and art centres choosing the works they exhibit, providing agency and voice and ensuring that the artists themselves guide the future of what appears in our galleries.

“Since it was established in 1991, Desert Mob has been a celebration where artists are very much in the spotlight and the event itself has been a facilitator of meaningful cross-cultural interactions.”

The Desert Mob exhibition continues at Araluen Arts Centre until 22 October 2017 with the 260 artworks featured in the exhibition also available to view and buy online.

Source: NT Government