Tarnanthi: Festival of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art 2019 program

‘Tarnanthi: Festival of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art 2019′ will feature the work of more than 1,000 artists from around Australia in exhibitions at the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) and venues across South Australia, from 18 October to 27 January 2020, as well as a series artist talks, tours, performances, workshops, creative activities and student programs.

Tarnanthi Artistic Director, Nici Cumpston says, ”Tarnanthi’ is a place of ideas and discussion, a gathering place for people to come together to encounter other viewpoints and to make connections. It is an opportunity for new and old relationships to develop, and it is a chance to look, listen and hear one another.’

Peter Mungkuri with his work Puṉu (trees), Weapons for the soldier, Hazelhurst Art Centre, 2018. Photograph: Jackson Lee

This year’s Festival will be launched at AGSA on Thursday 17 October from 6-9pm with a Kaurna Welcome to Country by celebrated Yolŋu artist and ceremonial leader of the Maḏarrpa clan, Djambawa Marawili AM. The night also includes performances Yolŋu award-winning rap sensation, Baker Boy, as well as artists from the Tiwi Islands and northeast Arnhem Land.

‘Visitors to ‘Tarnanthi 2019′ will experience sixty-three collaborative or solo projects, thirty presented at AGSA and another thirty-three at thirty partner venues, as well as an abundance of publicly accessible events such as the panpa-panpalya ideas forum, where visitors can hear directly from artists about current and important conversations,’ says Rhana Devenport ONZM, Director AGSA.

Participating artists, from fifteen to eighty-one years of age, present works of art that span a range of mediums: from painting, photography, printmaking, and works on paper to carving, sculpture, moving image, textiles and performance.

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili painting Baratjala, Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala, Northern Territory, 2019. Photograph: David Wickens

At AGSA, ‘Gurruṯu’ explores the intricate knowledge system that connects people and the universe across time with works by Artists from Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre in Yirrkala, north-east Arnhem Land; while an ambitious three-panelled painting that depicts the Maku Tjukurpa (Witchetty Grub ancestral creation story) and ceremony sites near Mimili.

Also at the AGSA, Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones has curated ‘Bunha-bunhanga: Aboriginal agriculture in the south-east’, a landmark research-based display demonstrating the role of traditional Aboriginal agriculture in shaping the Australian landscape; and the first visual representation of the ground-breaking research of the award-winning author, Bruce Pascoe. Jones unites historical landscape paintings and drawings from around the country with rarely seen Aboriginal agricultural tools from museum collections in the Gallery’s historic Elder Wing. The project will also encompass an exhibition at the Museum of Economic Botany in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

JamFactory also hosts several exhibitions as part of ‘Tarnanthi 2019’ including ‘Walka Waru: Ninuku Kalawatjanga ungu painta (Warm Works: Ninuku painting inside glass)’. This collaborative project explores new materials and forms, with artists who normally paint on canvas transferring their skills to glass for the first time. The artists at Ninuku Arts, in Kalka in the far northwest of South Australia, have painted their characteristically bold and colourful designs onto glass ‘starter bubbles’, which were blown into larger forms by JamFactory glass artists. The resulting works present ancestral stories in a striking new medium. Other exhibitions include work by Gunybi Ganambarr, Penny Evans, Regina Pilawuk Wilson, and Ernabella artists.

Ryan Presley, Marri Ngarr people, Northern Territory, born 1987, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Blood Money – Infinite Dollar Note – Dundalli, Commemorative, 2018, Brisbane, watercolour on paper. Collection of Bernard Shafer. Photograph: Carl Warner. Courtesy the artist and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia © Ryan Presley

A highlight over the opening weekend is the annual Tarnanthi Art Fair at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute from 18 to 20 October. The Tarnanthi Art Fair is committed to the ethical production and purchase of works of art, with all proceeds from sales going directly to the artists and 50 art centres involved.

Fittingly, held exclusively over the opening weekend at AGSA, artist Ryan Presley’s Blood Money Currency Exchange Terminal will offer visitors the opportunity to exchange Australian dollars (AUD) for various denominations of limited-edition Blood Money Dollars (BMD). Based on Presley’s series of watercolour paintings, money raised will go to Aboriginal youth programs, and exchange rates may fluctuate.