Tourism Australia Head of Indigenous Aff

Tarnanthi goes international in October 2020  

[by Lindsay Ferris]


Mick Wikilyiri from Amata Community. Image: Tjala Arts 2019

Tarnanthi, the Art Gallery of South Australia’s annual celebration of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, will have its first international offering in 2020.


Kulata Tjuta, a major exhibition of new works by thirty-four artists from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands will tour to France in October.


Presented in collaboration with APY Art Centre Collective, this exhibition, which features paintings, photographs and an installation of wooden and bronze spears and tools, will occupy an entire floor of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes, capital of the Region of Brittany.


Tarnanthi Artistic Director Nici Cumpston OAM says, ‘This celebration of contemporary Aboriginal art presents a rare opportunity for European audiences to experience the creative scope, adaptive genius and artistic dynamism of the present-day culture of Anangu (the name used by Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people to describe themselves). Their vibrant works communicate the Anangu vision of their desert homeland – not as a wilderness but as a wonderland, a landscape rich in food and animated by ancestral creation stories.’


South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall says, ‘This is a truly South Australian collaboration and a special moment. Kulata Tjuta presents works created by South Australian artists, telling traditional and recent stories from South Australia, and made possible through a partnership between the South Australian Government, AGSA and the APY Art Centre Collective.’


The title Kulata Tjuta (meaning Many Spears) suggests the determination of Anangu artists to defend their culture, land and language in the face of Western influences and pressure for change. It also refers to the Kulata Tjuta Project, a long-running cultural maintenance initiative in which senior Anangu artists and leaders share cultural knowledge and skills with younger generations.

Anangu artist Mick Wikilyiri says, ‘By celebrating our Tjukurpa (art and culture), we keep it alive, strong and protected for future generations. Each of these paintings created by artists across the APY Lands is a celebration of Tjukurpa. Our Tjukurpa lives in our country and inside Anangu, the men and women of the APY Lands, my brothers and sisters. Every painting is a song and a dance, it is also a map that details the artist’s country. Our Tjukurpa is our responsibility and it is also our Power.’


The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue that appears in three languages; English, French and Pitjantjatjara. The Breton language from the region will also feature in the exhibition. This exhibition has been created following an agreement between the governments of Brittany and South Australia with support from the City of Rennes. It is an international presentation of Tarnanthi, an annual celebration of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art held in South Australia.


The exhibition will open on the same day as the annual Tarnanthi celebration in Adelaide, at the Art Gallery of South Australia, titled Open Hands in 2020. Curated by Nici Cumpston OAM, Open Hands is a Tarnanthi exhibition featuring 87 artists and how the creativity of First Nations women artists forms a vital cultural link in sharing knowledge across generations.


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