Australian Aboriginal Art has emerged, not only nationally, but internationally as some one of the more interesting - both in terms of subject and the speed at which the artists are maturing – art movements.
The rapid development of Aboriginal art as a movement has garnered the attention of art buyers, galleries and government funding bodies, which has resulted in some of the most secure support structures for a group of people at an incredibly complex cultural cross-roads.
Each year at the Araluen Cultural Centre in Alice Springs, the Desert Mob exhibition is held. The exhibition is the culmination of the DesArt programme, which supports over 8000 artists, across 30 different language groups right across the remote areas of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.
The role of Desarts has been instrumental in bringing Aboriginal desert art to the forefront, ensuring artist support and ongoing funding :
“Desart provides a united voice for art centres and delivers programs that support the maintenance of strong governance and business practices, in addition to providing opportunities to market and promote art. Desart provides a conduit for broad engagement with remote art centres and has developed a national reputation for being a strong advocate to Governments and the broader arts industry, highlighting the unique position Aboriginal art centres hold in the national arts and cultural landscape, their successes, needs and challenges.”Desart.com.au
The Desert Mob exhibition started in 1991 and incorporates a curated exhibition, an artist’s symposium and the extremely popular open art market where artists from the Aboriginal run and managed art centres in the DesArt network can come and sell their work direct to the public (this event alone is worth the flight to Alice Springs).
The Araluen Cultural Centre is the epicenter of culture and arts in the Alice Springs area, and incorporates the Albert Namatjira Gallery which houses an extensive permanent collection of Aboriginal art as well as hosting travelling exhibitions and the annual Desert Mob collection, the Strehlow Research Centre, an Aviation Museum, and regularly hosts events such as the world famous Beanie Festival.
While the sophistication of the Desert Mob 2016 collection shows the depth of creativity of the artists, it is also testament to the ongoing support over the last 25 years of the artist programmes in the remote areas and the emergence of artistically driven, self managed communities building sustainable lives.
It is an area where Government Arts Funding has made real and lasting positive change in the lives of people for whom sustainable, autonomous administration is critical to the healing, growth and preservation of Australia’s first people.
Desert Mob 2106 runs from September 8th through until October 23rd. For the latest information on future Desert Mob exhibitions, subscribe to the DesArt’s newsletter
Images Courtesy of Camille Blythe.