TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art announces 2017 program

TARNANTHI Betty Kuntiwa Pumani, Antara 2017 - photo by Saul SteedFeaturing the work of more than 1,000 artists from across the country at city-wide exhibitions and events including a three-day art fair, TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art has announced its 2017 program.

The Festival will be launched by award-winning journalist, special advisor to the Prime Minister on Indigenous constitutional recognition and Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi man, Stan Grant on Thursday 12 October and will welcome close to 400 artists to Adelaide over the opening weekend.

TARNANTHI‘s role is to give a voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists’ way of thinking and being in this world by presenting their works of art from across the country,” says Artistic Director, Nici Cumpston.

Presenting works of art in mediums such as painting, photography, performance art, sculpture, installation, the moving image and design, will be independent artists and collectives from across the country, from cities and regional towns, as well as artists living and working in communities and art centres.

From Australia’s most north easterly point are artists from Erub Arts in the Torres Strait who will present an immersive installation of marine-themed sculptures made from ghost nets (discarded fishing nets), to the far south where Tasmanian artist Ricky Maynard presents poignantly titled photographic series Saddened Were the Hearts of Many Men.

While Reko Rennie presents an evocative video work featuring a camouflage over-painted gold 1973 Rolls-Royce Corniche driven by the artist through Kamilaroi country in NSW, with an accompanying score by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

This year’s Festival also has a focus on the seven art centres that span the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the centre of the country. “The role of the artist is the same in cities as it is in the bush – it’s a respected position,” says Anangu artist Yaritji Young from Amata.

“Artists out here are known for being brave and adventurous, we push new ideas while still protecting and keeping our Tjukurpa (Dreaming stories) strong for our children and grandchildren … this is important for them to see.”

TARNANTHI will also present over 50 new commissions including a series of monumental bark paintings by Nonggirrnga Marawili from Yirrkala in Arnhem Land. These works capture the energy of lightning during the wet season, with the top end having one of the world’s greatest number of lightning strikes.

The sacred power of nature runs through the work made for TARNANTHI by artists from Tjungu Palya Arts including Marita Baker, Angkaliya Eadie Curtis, Beryl Jimmy, Keith Stevens and Bernard Tjalkuri. Using tutu (natural pigment), the artists have painted their Tjukurpa directly onto Country, with photography bearing witness to these ephemeral acts.

TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art runs from 13 to 22 October 2017 with TARNANTHI at the Gallery continuing until 28 January 2018 at the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the TARNANTHI Art Fair at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute from 13 to 15 October 2017 – with all proceeds going directly to artists and arts communities. For more information including full program, visit: www.tarnanthi.com.au for details.

Image: Betty Kuntiwa Pumani, Pitjantjatjara/ Yankunytjatjara people, South Australia, born 1963, Perentie Bore, South Australia, Antara, 2017, Mimili, South Australia, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 300.0 x 200.0 cm; Courtesy the artist and Mimili Maku Arts – photo by Saul Steed