Warlukurlangu Artists – the largest and arguably the most successful Aboriginal arts centre in central Australia – if not Australia – will next month take an exhibition of recent work to New Delhi in India.
The exhibition, entitled “Desert Dreamings“, will be shown at the Open Palm Court Gallery at The India Habitat Centre on Lodhi Road in New Delhi from 6 to 12 April 2009 and will be opened by Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Mr John McCarthy. Warlukurlangu’s travel and accommodation have been assisted by Austrade.
I asked Warlukurlangu’s manager, Cecilia Alfonso, how she came to be taking Warlpiri art from central Australia all the way to India.
Cecilia explained that a few years ago she was in Canberra with a group of artists undergoing eye surgery (a great innovation of Warlukurlangu’s that I’ll discuss in a future post) when they ran into Durga Vishwanthan, a friend of Warlukurlangu’s assistant manager Gloria Morales.
As Cecilia told me:
Durga offered to help us put on an exhibition of Aboriginal art in New Delhi. She is an avid, passionate collector of Aboriginal art and I don’t think there have been many exhibitions of Aboriginal art in India.
So here we are a few years down the track.. the global economy has crashed, gloom and doom all around and we are spending a bloody fortune going half way around the world to try to flog a few pics…
We will try our hardest to sell some paintings. We are taking over a beautiful selection of affordable emerging work which, from our experience is the best way to enter a new market.
Accompanying Cecilia to India will be Warlukurlangu Artists Chair Otto Jungarrayi Sims and his wife Ormay Nangala Gallagher and while there will be a lots of work involved in setting up and running the exhibition, there will also be some time for a little sightseeing and shopping.
Cecilia says that:
We were keen to go over to India sometime and do a bit of shopping so we decided to go ahead…we also really want to see the Taj Mahal.
I’ve seen it before but it’s well worth seeing twice.
Warlukurlangu Artists has been operating since 1985 and represents over 400 central Australian artists (mainly from the Warlpiri and Anmatyerre language groups) living mainly in the townships of Yuendumu and Nyirripi, both over 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs.
Art from Warlukurlangu Artists has always been known for it’s strong iconography and use of a vivid palette and in recent years has become particularly sought after in the international and domestic markets.
For more information about Warlukurlangu go to their website for contact details, loads of background information and their online gallery.
For more information on other central Australian art centres go to the DESART – the Association of Central Australian Aboriginal
Art and Craft Centres.
All Desart member Art Centres are owned and managed by Aboriginal people in their own communities.