Books & Arts 2014 – 2016

This page contains links to books and arts news and reviews published since July 1, 2014, starting with the most recent.


Click here for books and arts news and reviews from 2013 to end of June 2014.





‘Show me another way to live’  San Roque liked to remind us, as we worked on Persephone Goes Under, of this piece of wisdom from Harpo Marx: “In a mixed up time in a mixed up country – everything can be reworked.” It could have been written for Central Australia, where as much as anywhere, perhaps more, we need great flexibility of mind and spirit. – Kieran Finnane








On the prowl for the fabled Night Parrot  Robert Nugent, an occasional local resident, is bringing you a treasure: the world premier of Night Parrot Stories, his tribute to Australians’ nostalgia for our extinct and rare wildlife, and our anxieties about our dying ways. – Bob Durnan








TV series: community life beyond the stereotypes  It was standing room only at Witchetty’s: People from Amoonguna, just south of Alice Springs had turned out in force to watch themselves and their families in dramas adapted from their lives, filmed in their place, by Indigenous Community Television (ICTV). – Kieran Finnane








Developments today are the heritage of tomorrow  With the title Rediscovering the Alice, I was expecting a film unearthing some forgotten corner of the town’s past. I was in for a surprise and I expect most of the Heritage Festival audience were too. – Kieran Finnane








Stance of the patriarchs and matriarchs  In Mumu Mike Williams’ paintings, the spears help make this fierce declaration and protest: “Our land and Tjukurpa are sacred. Don’t touch them!” – Kieran Finnane










Alice Prize winning work speaks of country, art history  “One of a new generation of contemporary Indigenous artists”, Naomi Hobson from Cape York in far north Queensland has been awarded the 2016 Alice Prize, with a work “inherently engaged with the local and at the same time one which feels entirely global”. – Kieran Finnane









Unchained at the Old Gaol  The first strong choice by Let Me See, the thoroughly worthwhile incubator program run by Red Hot Arts and this year produced and directed by Franca Barraclough, was to stage their performance in this resonant place. – Kieran Finnane









Alice film festival joins global movement  Something Somewhere, a festival of international, mostly documentary films has been curated with the community in mind, responding to local interests, expanding local understandings, stimulating conversations – about this place, the world, and our place in it. – Kieran Finnane talks to director Alex Kelly









Alice chairs for Venice unveiled at Bondi











Desert writing to educate the ‘coast-huggers’  A sense of Australia lived ‘from the inside out’ strongly permeates the anthology, Desert Writing: Stories from country, recently released by UWA Publishing. – Kieran Finnane










In your face music  The fourth Blacken Heavy Metal concert, “reborn” as a two-day festival, had them jumping to the in-your-face music from 20 bands, nine from interstate. – Erwin Chlanda










Alice to Venice: a tale of two workshops   Two Alice Springs workshops starting small but thinking big, joining forces to design and make a set of stylish, immaculately finished chairs for the Australian exhibit at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. – Kieran Finnane










Cultural drawcards – lessons for Alice from MONA? The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart has become the second-most visited attraction in Tasmania. There may be a lesson here for Alice in thinking about the development of an Aboriginal cultural centre of national standing. – Craig San Roque, author of  The Long Weekend in Alice Springs, adapted as a graphic novel by Joshua Santospirito. The pair were guest performers at MONA’s recent MOFO.




Cultural centre – think big! The money to start such a project seems to be available, or so some pollies seem to be indicating. Why not grasp this chance to do something remarkable? – Hall Duell






The Aboriginal art world, an insider’s view One day Rodney held up a couple of 90 x 120cm canvasses by Emily Kngwarreye, who came in from Utopia with her latest work – vivid, large brush “dump dump style” wildflowers. You should buy one of these, he said.  They were $600 each, but I was in rock ‘n’ roll which was a much leaner business. – Russell Guyauthor of Dry Crossing








2016 the year of fun, Made in Alice  The Dirty Word will be back at Totem Theatre in February after a much needed rest (to write poems) and the Red Dirt Poetry Festival is going to be bigger than ever, thanks to Arts NT. – Laurie May







Culture centre: Where is Aboriginal leadership?  Lack of leadership is set to scuttle yet another project for which the town should be the perfect fit, and for which there is the most desperate economic need. Four recent commentators are not on their own with this view. – Erwin Chlanda





Cultural museum for Alice: That’s how it could be done  While the show is national in its scope, desert artists, the town camps of Alice Springs and in the remote communities of the region, are providing the majority of the works on show in Tarnanthi at the Art Gallery of South Australia, celebrating “the vibrancy and diversity of work” being created by contemporary Indigenous artists. – Erwin Chlanda 









Stuart statue came to life – in peace  While the Freemasons’ statue of John McDouall Stuart in Stuart Park has attracted much  criticism, and the man it portrays has been lambasted by some as a murderer, on stage in the historic Stuart gaol, he was feted as a hero. – Erwin Chlanda










Pintupi artists prepare to show earliest treasures to world  Scheduled to open in 2017, the exhibition will be the first public viewing of nearly 100 paintings and rare cultural artefacts from that 1972 “moment in time that changed the course of Australian art forever”. – Kieran Finnane









Wonderland of wearable art  The colours and shapes of the desert, whether on the grand scale of the landscape or up close to the beauty and bounty of the flora, are an unending source of inspiration for Alice Springs artists and audiences alike. – Kieran Finnane with pictures by Erwin Chlanda 









Flowers, art bring together Florence and outback town  Colleen Ngwarraye Morton (pictured) is invited to exhibit at the Florence Biennale, which has plants as the theme.










What life do we choose?  Cait Wait and Kerrie Nelson return to Alice to show a collaborative art and poetry exhibition, A Chosen Life, as a homage to their homeground of 20 years ago.  – Craig San Roque









Set to head from isolation to world fame Alice-based promotion company Black Wreath staged an album launch for Southeast Desert Metal from Santa Teresa, attended by 500, including comedian Adam Hills (pictured with band leader Chris Wallace).









He is their creation A cast of 25 brings Young Frankenstein, the Mel Brooks parody, to the Totem Stage as the Alice Springs Theater Group breathes new life into the historic corrugated iron theatre, around half a century old.









A picnic of promise  In the old Ilparpa quarry an ancestral creation story is enacted, revealing the origins of the Mediterranean food culture and setting up echoes across time and continents.  – Kieran Finnane










Step into this song of praise Mike Gillam’s Maximo of Mparntwe, staged in an empty shop in Todd Mall, is a song of praise to the natural world of Mparntwe – central Arrernte country –  and its creatures all around us, to its beauty, drama, resilience, vulnerability and lessons.








p2272-Desert-Mob-Burton-225th Desert Mob: ‘We all grew up together’ There could be no mistaking how thrilled Nyurpaya Kaika-Burton was to stand on the podium and open the 25th Desert Mob. She put her stamp unforgettably on the occasion, with the excellent translator Linda Rive at her side.









Grand final vs grand culture  The Magpies had made it into the grand final, but the community had also planned for months the reopening of their Men’s Museum, restored to past glory after decades of obscurity and decline. Visitors from all over Australia were coming.  – Kieran Finnane









Art gallery a shining beacon in troubled Mall  Business at Talapi Gallery has been growing steadily from a low in 2011, and this week, with Aboriginal art lovers and traders streaming into Alice the 2015 Desert Mob it is booming. – Erwin Chlanda









Story-tellers look back and look forwards  Many of the 127 story-tellers got up today at the Telegraph Station to help send Every hill got a story out into the hands of readers. It’s a book about country from the perspective of Central Australia’s Aboriginal people.  – Kieran Finnane









A geography of ideas  After their innovative and delightful circle skirt project, Ngurratjuta Many Hands Artists are working on a collaborative panoramic landscape, showing the MacDonnell Ranges. Both will be on show as part of Tarnanthi, the Art Gallery of South Australia’s inaugural Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. – Kieran Finnane









Festival lights and laughs  Glowing caterpillars, lanterns and the signature sound of Drum Atweme drew a nice crowd to open the Alice Desert Festival, while the local comedy showcase was mostly not about local comic matters. – Kieran Finnane









‘Put it on and they will come’  The alternative to “build it” delivers on its promise. What’s more it creates excellent money-making and creative opportunities for people willing to have a go. – Kieran Finnane with photos by Erwin Chlanda 








Santa Teresa musos world’s ‘most isolated’ metal band  The most isolated heavy metal band in the world, Southeast Desert Metal, hailing from the remote community of Santa Teresa, are set to launch their debut film clip.








Taking pop up to the next level  With art collectors and gallerists flying into town for Desert Mob – the annual exhibition of work from desert art centres – it’s a good time to test the waters for showing and selling work by independent artists. – Kieran Finnane





Four ‘pop ups’ in line for the mall  Four of Todd Mall’s vacant premises will be brought back to life by pop up ventures during the Alice Desert Festival and Desert Mob. – Kieran Finnane








Desert artists triumph at ‘Telstras’  Desert artists triumphed in the 2015 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, their 32nd year.



Yuendumu writes new chapter on the beginnings of contemporary Western Desert art  Reclaimed from obscurity, the Yuendumu Men’s Museum will once again open its doors. Inside, a priceless treasure of cultural heritage, murals created by the community’s Old Men in the weeks, possibly months ahead of 31 July 1971. – Kieran Finnane









Styling up, Yapa way  Yapa Styles showcases excellence in Indigenous design, especially in fabrics and accessories, while also fostering self-confidence and “the beauty within”  of local Aboriginal people, boys and girls, women and men. – Kieran Finnane with photos by Erwin Chlanda









Waste not: the art of reinvention  Artist Faye Alexander transforms waste in a process of discovery, reinvention, reinterpretation. – Kieran Finnane 










‘We share the land’  Mervyn Rubuntja and fellow artists, his family members, exhibit in a group show at the artist-run Watch This Space – Kieran Finnane









Festival thinks deep and wide  Alice Desert Festival (staff pictured at left) seems to have struck the right note in its programming this year, a good balance between creativity with deep roots in the community and some stimulating imports, catering for a wide range of tastes and interests. – Kieran Finnane







We have what it takes, now let’s start strutting it.  As well as doing the world a favor, an Indigenous Art and Culture Centre, coupled with the lure of our unique landscape, could be just the combination we need to attract that elusive steady stream of new visitors. – Hal Duell






Out of the shadows of showbiz  Even high-powered USA showbiz could not steal the limelight at 2015’s Sustainable Couture – the ‘fashion parade’ dedicated to “the endless possibilities of recycling”, now in its seventh year. – Kieran Finnane









Can public art policy deliver common sense? The Town Council has received $120,000 over three years to develop an arts and cultural policy and fund a program of works. But can policy deliver common sense, of the kind that would ensure visibility to the public art lurking behind these road signs? – Kieran Finnane.








‘Revitalised’ mall gets big tick from NT Architecture Awards  Alice Springs has dominated the NT Architecture Awards announced last Friday, with Susan Dugdale and Associates taking out the top award, plus two others for the design work on the CBD Revitalisation – Kieran Finnane.








Place caught in transmission  How can you recognise place in a work of abstract art? Wayne Eager’s small yet rewarding exhibition at the Araluen Arts Centre invites us to do so – Kieran Finnane.









Music from the old country celebrated in the new  What brings klezmer, the popular musical tradition of Yiddish-speaking peoples from Eastern Europe, into a recording studio in Alice Springs? KIERAN FINNANE finds out.









Invitation to a dance  The latest foray by Ngurratjtua artists – landscape painting in the Namatjira tradition as wearable art – is beautifully displayed at RAFT Artspace – Kieran Finnane.









Australia through Bilby eyes … Twenty years in development, five years in the dogged making, Kaye Kessing’s Bilby’s Ring trilogy is now a reality. TED EGAN spoke at the launch of its enjoyments and insights.









Ted Egan: Saluting heroes, not the war  Ted Egan was 12 when his mother told him the story of her three brothers in World War I: “She was one of the most anti-war persons I’ve ever met.” The author, historian, singer-songwriter and former NT Administrator speaks to ERWIN CHLANDA about his book, The Anzacs, 100 Years On.








Looking for love and meaning on the road  The “poetry and song of the road” is the stuff of Russell Guy’s debut novel Dry Crossing. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.









Desert imprints: artists’ new ventures   Wonderland shows  work by six central Australian artists following their residency in Sydney with printmaking studio Cicada Press – Kieran Finnane









Playing race relations for laughs KIERAN FINNANE on the first two episodes of 8MMM following a community preview screening on the Town Council lawns.









Comic take on clash of cultures  Patricia Morton-Thomas on the new black comedy series for television out of Alice Springs, 8MMM. Interview by KIERAN FINNANE. 









Let Me See: about so much more than sight  KIERAN FINNANE on  the pleasures of the art event, Let Me See: Arts & Technology, staged at The Residency, one of Alice Springs’ oldest buildings.









Bequest yields first book and ‘a true message to Australia’   A bequest from the late Alice Springs artist and children’s book illustrator Pamela Lofts to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has borne its first fruit, The Yirara Mix Book, the work of  Yirara College students mentored by Indigenous writers Ali Cobby-Eckermann, Lionel Fogarty and Lorna Munro – Kieran Finnane







Artist found voice in ‘melting pot’ of The Centre  On the occasion of a retrospective at the Araluen Arts Centre of Marina Strocchi’s work, JOHN KEAN (pictured with the artist) considers her place in the rich artistic culture of The Centre.









The fertile space between us Part One of KIERAN FINNANE‘s presentation as Lofty recipient 2013, held on 20 November 2014 at Watch This Space. In it she considers key instances of inter-cultural and cross-cultural creativity in Alice Springs over the last 30 years, a rich heritage on which the town could build. This piece contains the links to Parts 2,3 & 4.






WTS Coles mural 2sm


Culture: Alice sells itself short   KIERAN FINNANE on how little of Alice Springs’ bicultural character is reflected in its public spaces, something  the town might want to attend to  if it is to host a national Indigenous cultural centre.








A life lived at the frontier of enormous change KIERAN FINNANE on Blind Moses by Peter Latz, a biography of the Western Arrernte man of high degree and Christian evangelist, Moses Tjalkabota Uraiakuriaia, c 1872 -1954.









Neil Murray returns to The Centre





The art of walking KIERAN FINNANE joins particpants in a festival event led by artists Fina Po and Dale Gorfinkel, following them into the Todd River. .







Extreme fun: the 24 Hour Dance Marathon No one dropped and you couldn’t beat it for sheer exuberance: the 23rd hour of the Alice Desert Festival’s 24 Hour Dance Marathon. Story and photos by KIERAN FINNANE.





Dance till you drop Story and photos from hour four of the 24 Hour Dance Marathon.





p2134 Fest Package 10


The Package delivers on life’s big themes  For anyone who has grown old, who has feared growing old, who has watched a love one grow old; for anyone who has had a child, who has longed for child, who has lost a child; for any woman who has given birth, for any woman or girl who has dreamed about giving birth: KIERAN FINNANE reviews the theatrical experience of The Package, a highlight of the Alice Desert Festival.





Let the Alice Desert Festival begin! Photos of the street parade.







Desert Mob: This is who we are  There’s the art and there’s the mob. You don’t get one without the other and in many ways Desert Mob has always carried a message of ‘This is who we are’, even if for the outsider the message has often, even mostly, been beautifully opaque. KIERAN FINNANE  reviews the exhibition and symposium.






Steering committee for national Indigenous art centre ERWIN CHLANDA reports that a steering committee will be set up to to create a national Indigenous art centre in Alice Springs.







A national Indigenous culture centre in Alice progressing KIERAN FINNANE reports on Hetti Perkins’ remarks at the opening of the annual Desert Mob.





Let the festivals multiply!  The last days of grace before Alice gets frantic with festivals: Desert Mob, Free BBQ Cash Giveaway, The Desert Song Festival, Bush Bands Bash and Alice Desert Festival.







‘What holds you, the beauty or the damage?’ KIERAN FINNANE reports on Jennifer Taylor’s enquiry into landscape painting: her artist’s talk and an exhibition, Portraits of Country, at Raft Artspace.





Watercolour artists earn ‘highly commended’







Winners announced at national Telstra art award





Another day for living KIERAN FINNANE reviews Ruth Apelt’s farewell performance at The Totem.







Alice Plaza mural completed





How delicious is Spam? KIERAN FINNANE reviews My Desert is Delicious, a performance in development by the Dusty Feet Dance Collective.







For heaven’s sake, it’s Rock’n Roll ERWIN CHlANDA on the launch of the Super Raelene Brothers’ new album, Revolution Day, including a video clip of their performance of the title song.


Super Raelene Bros’ Revolution Day has come LIAM CAMPBELL reviews.









A show of ‘quiet and intriguing discoveries’ KIERAN FINNANE reports on the artists’ talk and exhibition by Rachel Bowak, Nic Hempel, Kim Mahood, Andrew Moynihan, Pip McManus and the late Pamela Lofts, which has grown out of a residency at the Groundrush mine in the Tanami Desert in 2007.







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