Aficionados head north to taste Top End art

More than 10,000 visitors are expected at this year’s Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, including buyers from major galleries around Australia and overseas.

Organisers said this week The National Gallery of Victoria, The National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of WA are among Australian institutions sending representatives.

Internationally, buyers are set to fly in from the US, UK, China, France, Germany and Japan. About 500 international visitors are expected.

Hundreds of artists are set to display and sell their work, with some of the most sought-after art expected to be by National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award finalists John Mawurndjul, from the NT’s Maningrida Arts and Culture centre; Lisa Waup, from Baluk Arts in Victoria; Ishmael Markia from the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre in the NT; Regina Pilawuk Wilson from the NT’s Durrmu Arts; and Tjanpo Desert Weavers from Alice Springs.

Renowned Torres Strait Island artist Alick Tipoti will also bring his Zugubal Dancers to perform from Badu and Horn Islands in the Torres Strait.

Event executive director Claire Summers said this year’s fair — which will run from August 5 to 7 — will be twice as big as last year’s and also include fashion, film and children’s activities.

“In 10 years the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair has become a cultural beacon, with hundreds of artists travelling to the Northern Territory to interact personally with buyers and aficionados…,” she said.

Ms Summers said the fair would give visitors the chance to see a wide-range of Indigenous art from traditional bark to jewelry, basket weaving, canvas painting, textile design and fashion.

The fair has raised more than $8.5 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities since it began. Last year’s even brought in $1.75 million with all of the money going back to remote communities, organisers said.

The event coincides with the Darwin Festival, and also complements the 33rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards and the National Indigenous Music Awards, which are both also celebrated over the same weekend in Darwin.

  • The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair will be held at the Darwin Convention Centre from August 5 to 7. Entry is free.

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