This debate and debacle over the location of a new …

Comment on All views about gallery location will be considered: Lauren Moss by Namatjira Art Collector.

This debate and debacle over the location of a new Aboriginal Art Museum has caught the attention of some overseas gallery owners and collectors, who, with a little encouragement, might assist with the cost of construction.
If this was to happen, presumably the gallery would be handed over to Aboriginal people to run, spelling the end of government intervention.
I have had such a conversation with a New York art dealer, and he suggested that Aboriginal leaders canvas donations from various galleries and art philanthropists. It might be worthwhile.
And of cause the gallery must be built in The Gap, (the old Melanka site?) that is a given. There is no need to distress local people with threats of demolishing heritage buildings, be they be the old ANZAC school or the iconic council building.
Perhaps the structure itself should be given attention. Alice Springs does not need a building like the supreme court, but rather something affordable and stylish and Aboriginal in design.
This is simply my own toying with the design issue, I expect others will have better ideas, but here are mine:
Looking at a couple of my dot paintings, I translated some of the images into buildings, whose external walls are made of rammed earth (red ochre) and the interiors constructed from mainly reinforced, toughened and laminated glass i.e. architectural glass. If part of the ceiling was also glass, these buildings would appear to look like dot designs when viewed from above.
The main building – the art gallery – is a dot painting of a waterhole.
The interior walls are constructed from double-sided, near-to-ceiling architectural glass panels with door-sized breaks in each circle.
The glass panels (opaque from the top to waist level, then clear to the floor) are set between round, white metal posts (which if looked at from above, would be the white dots).
The legs of people viewing the artwork would appear as caterpillar legs, thus incorporating the Yeperenye theme.
The artwork could be slipped in between the double glass from the top of the near-to-ceiling glass panels and the top secured with a strip of alloy for strength and security.
Rather than jamming cafes, gift shops and working studios into one building, I thought that other dot painting symbols could be purpose-built structures.
A Coolamon, using the same building material as the art gallery, could be the café and serve food using traditional native products. Kungas can Cook caterers might occupy this space.
The garden is planted with bush tucker trees and bushes.
A digging stick building might house a gift shop selling local art and craft make in another building modelled on a shield. This art and craft studio could fill the needs of local and bush art and craft people wishing to produce pottery, screen prints, silk scarves or artwork in a culturally appropriate place.
More building modelled on other symbols could be added later.
Having affordable buildings with an Aboriginal dot painting theme might just attract interest and money from overseas art philanthropists, as well as Australians interested in supporting such a project.
But, as I say, this is just me thinking out loud … in print.

Recent Comments by Namatjira Art Collector

Council ‘in the way’ of Alice development: Chief Minister
What is (Nero) Gunner doing bothering himself with Alice Springs when Darwin, the traditional seat of Territory Labor’s power, is (burning) floundering?
Gunner is clearly a loose cannon for Labor which will probably find it difficult to win a second term.
There are now a couple of small splinter parties as well as independents that are capitalising on Gunner’s mistakes – and the Anzac Oval idea is certainly unpopular with many locals and traditional families.
If Melky and his new party can run with the opposition to Anzac Oval and others in Darwin add to the disaffection with Labor’s general mismanagement, then it has a rather good chance of ending up like the CLP.
If (and it is a very big if) someone in the Labor government were to do their sums, they would walk away from the Anzac oval project and very quickly find a new location that is viewed favourably by those opposed to the oval. But, I fear the fiddle is being tuned as I write.


Mayor Ryan, CM Gunner mum on art gallery
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.


National Indigenous Art Gallery future in doubt: Gunner
There are many more suitable places other than Anzac Oval.
The old Melanka site is directly across from CAAMA. Years ago, their shop sold the CDs and tapes of recordings by Aboriginal musicians which were produced on the premises. I believe they still do.
The shop also sold books, Yamba dolls and souvenirs.
Then there were the studio tours that were popular. Behind CAAMA is Impaja. So to have an Aboriginal Art gallery directly across the road makes sense to me.
The building could be designed around some of the trees and it doesn’t need to be large, but rather stylish and Centralian.


Gallery reference group co-chairpersons announced
TRW – I had planned donating them to Araluen but I expect the artwork held in that museum would be shared or probably even consolidated into the new museum.
For that reason, the collection is going south. I feel that is the right decision under the circumstances.


Gallery reference group co-chairpersons announced
Not interested in being lectured to, so didn’t read all the waffle.
Cutting to the chase, this art gallery and its location suits no one other than this pedantic government.
Out of respect to the townspeople and the memory of the Aboriginal watercolour artists whose paintings I collected, my forty or so pieces are off to the new Aboriginal gallery in Adelaide.


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