In 2011 in an ABC interview I revived the idea …

Comment on National Indigenous gallery: what should come first? by Alex Nelson.

In 2011 in an ABC interview I revived the idea of an Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Alice Springs, suggesting the vacant Melanka site would be an ideal location for it to be constructed. However, last year I belatedly realised we already have a building virtually purpose-built for such a centre.
During my research on the history of the Strehlow Research Centre intended for a presentation at the 25th anniversary symposium, I gained an appreciation of just what an extraordinary world-significant facility we already have here in Central Australia of which most of us are largely ignorant; certainly its importance has been underestimated. The problem we have with the SRC is that it’s obliged to share its premises with the Central Australian Museum, and this arrangement seriously compromises their integrity and limits the potential of both facilities housed there.
My suggestion is that the Central Australian Museum ought to have its own purpose-built building or complex which has the potential to be a major visitor drawcard in its own right – and, again, the old Melanka site may provide us with an ideal location for it.
Meanwhile, the SRC can recover the full use of its own purpose-built facility, with the public space vacated by the CAM to be dedicated for Aboriginal culture and art, and local anthropological history.
That’s my initial thoughts on this subject.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Country Liberal Party: custodians ignored on gallery
@ Jack (Posted May 29, 2020 at 2:11 pm): Whatever amount of money “we” decide to “stump up” gives us no right or authority to dictate terms to Indigenous people on how or where their art and culture may be displayed for others.
What they decide might not cost as much as $50m; indeed, it’s the NT Government, not custodians and TOs, that “stumped up” that sum of money so it’s hypocritical to blame the latter.
And, if custodians and TOs decide they don’t want to go down this path at all, then the money becomes a moot point, doesn’t it?


Country Liberal Party: custodians ignored on gallery
Basically, whether from the Labor or Country Liberals, the debate about the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, is all about cultural appropriation of Aboriginal art to suit the ambitions of politicians, bureaucrats and the business sector.
The entire process, subsequent to the steering committee report, has been (and continues to be) completely mishandled arse-about; surely it has to be resolved in the following manner:
1. Do the traditional custodians and owners of this region want or support the concept of a “national” art gallery, either on its own or as part of a cultural centre?
2. If they support this concept, where do they want it to be built?
The answers to these two basic questions would provide the guidance on whether this project is approved or not in the first place, and then (if approved) where it can be built.
It’s their art, their culture, so let’s allow the custodians and TOs to be the primary authority on this matter, and the rest of us to abide by their wishes accordingly.


CLP would build gallery at Desert Park, not Anzac precinct
@ Ray (Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:19 pm): The irony of your comment is that the Alice Springs Desert Park, when it was a concept promoted by the NT Government nearly 30 years ago, was touted as a major new attraction for Alice Springs that would attract and / or divert tourists from Uluru – yes, it was going to be the economic game-changer for Central Australia!
As was the casino at the beginning of NT self-government _ who remembers all those high-rollers from Asia it was going to attract to our fair town?
And then the Desert Knowledge Precinct, which would put Central Australia at the forefront of research and development for a billion customers in similar environments around the world! Hallelujah!
Not to mention the very original economic nirvana dreaming, the transcontinental railway from south to north that would open up access to the teeming markets of southeast Asia (that one dates from the 19th century colonial period of South Australia’s control of the Northern Territory).
And now we’ve got the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, just the latest mirage on the desert horizon that self-interested politicians and bureaucrats are urging upon us as the oasis of our economic salvation.


CLP would build gallery at Desert Park, not Anzac precinct
To me the obvious question to ask is this: Assuming the gallery is built at the Alice Springs Desert Park or south of the Gap, or even not at all, who then is going to be held to account for the unnecessary destruction of a perfectly good public asset, the former Anzac Hill High School, at a cost to taxpayers over $2m and for no good reason at all?
By rights this whole issue should be a major political scandal.


Mparntwe custodians: Lhere Artepe does not speak for us
@ Jack (Posted May 26, 2020 at 1:19 am): Change the scale of your figures (upwards, on a massive scale), widen the scope of your scenario, and you’ve got a perfect description of the Northern Territory for the entire period of “responsible” self-government.


Be Sociable, Share!

A new way to support our journalism

We do not have a paywall. If you support our independent journalism you can make a financial contribution by clicking the red button below. This will help us cover expenses and sustain the news service we’ve been providing since 1994, in a locally owned and operated medium.

Erwin Chlanda, Editor