In 2002 I started an art tour business (Tanamart) to …

Comment on Art Trail, Explorer’s Way: big words, so far no substance by Trevor Shiell.

In 2002 I started an art tour business (Tanamart) to remote art centres because I believe (and still do) that it’s right and proper to purchase the products of the centres direct and meet the artists who actually contribute their skills.
I went as far as Warman in WA and all points in between, with clients from all over the world. My observations were, one gallery in WA wanted an opening fee of $200 irrespective of any sales being made.
I charged a commercial fee at minimum cost plus commissions on sales.
Then I found that many clients, being themselves commercial operators, used my service as an introduction to the galleries then purchased on line, making my model uneconomic.
But I got an extraordinary satisfaction from operating that service and cutting out the opportunists – carpet baggers.
One gallery manager also told me that he only promoted the top five or so artists. Hence the piles of works from lower pecking order potential artists accumulating in the centres.
On an investigative trip to galleries around Melbourne I walked out of a Collins St gallery with his current price list and was chased down the street by the owner of the gallery to get his price list back.
That smells of price padding and exploitation. Another had nothing to display in his gallery as he simply buys and exports directly to America. Another in Sydney claiming to be an expert on Utopia art could not point out Utopia on an NT map!
For these reasons and others I would love to see the art trail concept pushed, bring the end users direct to the artists. The other concept that needs investigating urgently to avoid the exploitation described above is a permanent display market in town run and administrated by the centres themselves to sell direct to the consumers.

Recent Comments by Trevor Shiell

Cart before the horse
I am again pointing to the extreme short sighted planning, money shortage or no money shortage.
We are at the centre of a unique set of infrastructure but fail to either realise or capitalise on it or both.
We are at the centre of at least three major cross country highways. North South, East West, with the advent of the Outback Way, and now North West (Tanami from the growing food bowl in the Ord to the markets in the South East).
The Brisbane to Perth route via the Outback Way is very competitive with the conventional route so we have a major interstate traffic hub right on our doorstep.
Then add in the rail link and an international airport and no where else in the country can match that.
Bring in the Outback Way as alternative entry into Alice via Altunga and you have an alternative for heavy transport going to Perth rather than through the current CBD and a new tourist province from the east.
Then add in the fast approaching avalanche of electric vehicles including trucks (Tesla has now on the market electric transport vehicles with a range of up to 800 km and cost savings of around 30 cents per km).
We will once again be caught flat footed, money or no money, and this makes the development of Brewer where the electricity is sourced so obvious as the base for a new commercial hub.
Several major infrastructure projects including interstate airports have been funded by overseas superannuation funds, but not here when we have billions secreted away but out of touch, as our planning is all too frequently.


Ghan walk: Signs of the times
Try watching the sunset as promoted on FM tourist radio from the seats closest to the car park steps on Anzac Hill.
You can’t see the view because of trees planted right there. Another masterpiece in forward thinking.
Watching last week’s landline re Kalgoolie and their murals shows again how shallow we are in our thinking, as does the ABC programme on alternative energy (Catalyst) last week.


Visitor from afar to Alex’s backyard
I last saw one on the Tanami near Chilla Well several years go and another near Newhaven.
I took particular notice because it could not fly, but fluttered along the side of the road as though injured.
I stopped but could not approach it, but it made its way into a low tree with difficulty.
Perhaps they are extending their range for climatic reasons.


Don’t mess with our treasures, says Alice
We seem to never learn in the name of “Progress”.
I am often asked by visitors with long memories, what happened to the bullbar where we used to meet?(Now a characterless adjunct to the Ford Plaza.)
Another asked: “Where are all the verandas?” Another told me: “This is just like Christie’s.” He lives at Christie’s beach, South of Adelaide.
I frequently get comments like: “What happened to Alice Springs” and “it’s just the same as everywhere else.”
We still refuse to look at places like Hahndorf where they have used their heritage to create a huge industry, while we have allowed – even encouraged – a few greedy developers to make their money and then hightail it out.
No wonder people no longer travel the long distances to get here only to find that its just the same –sometimes even worse than the place they had just left.
There has been no imagination or LONG TERM future direction in planning.
Were it not so, where the disgrace of Kilgariff is now would be a vibrant demonstration of what is being done to feed the extra nine billion people expected to inhabit the earth within 30 years, and encourage the investment to make that happen.
They can’t eat houses and Todd Mall would be filled with throngs of people experiencing both the history, culture and possibilities of what can still be a unique town if they make the right decisions on what is valuable.
And that is not they yield in housing allotments or parking spaces per hectare as was a planning consultant’s vision of the town. Time to start again.


Planning another plan
Remember the towards 2030 document of a Labor administration several years ago? Full of social platitudes with no concrete plans.
In the 35 years that I have lived here I cannot recall a single proactive initiative to produce new industries and employment opportunities.
There have been so many opportunities missed for the want of a proactive approach.
Some examples: A famous German research institute looking for a venue to research solar technology.
Ignored here, in the context of a technology park on the airport land when it was managed by Infratril.
Before Christmas, a consortium procured the old Chrysler factory in Adelaide to produce hydrogen for the emerging car industry. Their justification was the quality of sunlight in Adelaide! Did anyone chase them to come here?
I have this week sent caparis seed (our own caper bush) to a grower in SA who has 500 plants in the ground and intends to increase it by a factor of 10.
There is a growing market again not recognised here. There are numerous other examples passed by.
I was also asked to procure wattle seed for the food industry. Currently research on this is being done in Africa and India. Why?
Last year the Indian High commissioner outlined India’s need for food (in the billions of dollars). Surely that should have awakened a little interest in supplying that market and doing the research to satisfy that market, but it went unnoticed.
The issue was raised also by the Chinese vice president for food production three years ago but it too went unnoticed here.
I can almost guarantee that the coming World Food Forum in Sydney will pass un-noticed here while everyone else will be scrambling for market opportunities.
Years ago, I asked the then Minister for Agriculture where Old Man Plains research station was and he told me he thought it was near Arltunga.
If you go looking for it take an EPERB, a cut lunch and a water bag. And if you are a potential investor in food production here and subsequent employment don’t bother.
The ex-mayor has little to distinguish himself by, apart from – like every other expert who has written reports – has at the sole aim to replicate the urban sprawl which is occurring south of Adelaide where even the Willunga Golf course is under threat of subdivision.
Could it happen here?
No mention of Christie’s Close in the Adelaide CBD, or the Eco village. There is nothing here to distinguish us from any other suburb in Australia. The last consultant measured his success by housing plots per hectare.
Is that what Alice is all about? Who benefits?
We have the unique situation south of town where we have the intersection of three major cross country transport routes, a rail head and an international airport all together, yet we refuse to acknowledge that the town is now in the wrong position for future growth.
And that includes the cultural centre which should be incorporated into Yirara College. After all it’s their culture which we all share and use.
Do we really want to be the same as everywhere else?


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