Aboriginal art fair links artists with buyers

More than 200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across Australia will sell their work directly to collectors and art enthusiasts at a unique Adelaide art fair this weekend.

Oct 13, 2017, updated Oct 13, 2017
The Tarnanthi Art Fair in 2015. Photo: John Montesi

The Tarnanthi Art Fair in 2015. Photo: John Montesi

The market, at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Grenfell Street, kicks off the 2017 Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, which is now in its second year.

Profits raised from the sale of the art will go directly to the artists, eliminating the usual art dealer middleman.

Tarnanthi artistic director Nici Cumpston says selling artwork directly has important benefits for both artists and buyers.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to come and actually meet the artists and see first-hand what they’ve made and how they’re marketing themselves,” she says.

“It’s also important to see the diversity of work that people are making for the market as opposed to a gallery space. You’ll see both gallery-quality works as well as items that are suited more for an art fair.

“Some of the artists have even made smaller versions of the artworks they’re exhibiting in the gallery spaces.”

The event will run from today until Sunday at Tandanya. Artworks for sale include traditional dot paintings, bark paintings, woven sculpture and jewellery, with prices ranging from $50 to $5000.

Tarnanthi has grown to be Australia’s largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture festival, featuring more than 1000 artists from across the country.

Highlights from this year’s festival include a collection of sea creature sculptures made from ocean debris and recycled plastics, a cultural artefacts auction and a suspended spear installation.

Cumpston says this year’s festival features bigger and more conceptual artworks.

“The artists have really pushed themselves to another level.

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“The artworks are a whole different scale and the artists have really put a lot of thought into the meaning behind each piece.

“Last time we had over 100,000 people come through to see the exhibitions, so we’re expecting our attendance figures for this year to extend far beyond that.”

The Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art runs until October 22, with artworks exhibited at locations across Adelaide, while the major Tarnanthi exhibition at the Art Gallery of SA will continue until January 28.

This article was first published on The Lead.

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