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

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.

National gallery business case still not public
I doubt if Aborignal organisations want to be seen in the same light as the CLP when they destroyed Turner House and Marron’s news agency.
I am sure they would not want to be seen as responsible for the destruction of another Alice Springs icon.

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