I understand (or have at least heard) that the push …

Comment on Mayor Ryan, CM Gunner mum on art gallery by Namatjira Art Collector.

I understand (or have at least heard) that the push for the Anzac Oval site has a lot to do with directing tourists to that end of the Mall, thereby benefiting local businesses.
However, Aboriginal people, including the families of the artists (the artists being the raison d’etre for the gallery) might want to look at it from their own perspective.
If the point is to celebrate Aboriginal art and culture, then it certainly starts with Albert Namatjira and his watercolour school but it doesn’t end there.
For the watercolour artists were followed by the dot painters whose work we see in national and international galleries.
But it didn’t end there either. These artists are only part (albeit a very important part) of the story.
CAAMA Music contributed too to the cultural story, producing and promoting recordings by many well known and less known bands during the 80s and 90s. They still produce music.
Then from Impaja (and CAAMA) there is Yamba the Honey Ant. She too is colourful and culturally important.
Further down from CAAMA and Impaja is IAD Press, which has printed history books and Dreamtime stories of a 50,000 year old culture for past 40 years.
So there are watercolour and dot artists, then there are recording artists and artists who write or illustrate books. They are all artists.
The area of Gap Road and South Terrace is traditionally an Aboriginal cultural precinct.
It should, out of respect, be kept together. An art gallery, built across the road from CAAMA and Impaja and up the road from IAD Press is a way of remembering and paying tribute to all those great artists whose colours in song and paint has put Alice on the tourist map.
If Gunner and his mob and the Alice Springs council were sincere in wanting to honour these artists, they would build on or near the Melanka site.
If the point of the gallery is just to be a money spinner for the town – build it on Anzac oval.

Recent Comments by Namatjira Art Collector

Anzac High: No plans yet for what will replace it
Wakefield: “Clearly, we think the Anzac Oval site is the best site for the national indigenous art gallery project.”
Clearly? Your government has the clarity of a blind mole, Ms Wakefield. Traditional owners have not only said No to people climbing the Rock, but also to the location of the gallery next to Anzac oval.
It seems some Nos are more equal than other Nos.
With that in mind, I packed up most of my watercolour collection and send it to Adelaide where I’m sure it will be in good company with all the other Namatjira school watercolours, not to mention the dot paintings.

Government firm on demolishing Anzac High: Lawler
Darwin based Labor Minister for Environment and Natural Resources; Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics; Minister for Climate Change, Eva Lawler’s contempt for Alice Springs heritage will see local Labor members punished.
It could be that Lawler’s silly demolition plan could result in climate change to her party, cause you don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows … and it only takes one or two seats.

Ministers lash out at council over gallery
The history of Aboriginal Australia is at least 20 times older than that of pharaonic Egypt, and like ancient Egypt, there is relatively little physical evidence left.
What is left, the dreamtime stories telling the history and locations of events long past, is the raison d’être for this art gallery. The watercolours and dot painting are the collective memories of an extant people and their ancient oral history.
The substantial and unique building housing the Alice Springs Town Council is a much, much later chapter in the story of this region.
In comparison to ancient Egypt (but using a more compact time-line) this could be the Ptolemaic period – different, but still history.
Dale Wakefield and Lauren Moss must understand the importance of both and not vandalise them.
Firstly, the dream time site south of The Gap is living history and the reason for the gallery is to contain such history.
The gallery is not just about the tourist dollar and fine paintings, to think that is a very crude evaluation of such national treasures.
The demolition of Turner’s House and Marron’s Newsagency could be compared to Napoleon Bonaparte attempted destruction of the Sphinx by cannon fire. The historical buildings of the Town Council are now under threat.
Do we have two more Napoleons?

Cattle near national park tourist icon
There’s also cattle in the Ruby Gap Nature Park.
There was a mob of them when we took visitors there in May and they were still there in August when we made another trip to the park.

Gallery business case slap in the face of custodians
With the Territory election taking place this time next year and the fact that probably neither Wakefield or Territory Labor will be in government, it might be time for the custodians to talk to the other side of politics.
The building of the gallery in a location unacceptable to Aboriginal people defies belief. It is possible they will ask that their artwork not be displayed in this gallery.
I for one will not donate my rather large and interesting collection of Namatjira watercolours to such a place. Others, I believe, will follow this example.
As to the extra visitors, how will these be accommodated? Our caravan parks and hotels were full for most of this tourist season.
I cannot accept the ambit claim of 245 jobs. Publish the details or retract this claim.
Finally, there is a emphasis in this report about how much money the gallery will make for the town. Nothing wrong with making money, but not in the context of trampling on others’ heritage and traditions with the expectations of a reward for yourselves. This smacks of piracy.

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