Sunday, 11 August 2013

Aboriginal Art Fair

Lots of screen printed fabrics.
Silk. Cottons. Silk-cotton blends. Linen.
How much? About $60 per metre for basics.
Today we went to the Aboriginal Art Fair. The Art Fair is on all weekend at the Darwin Convention Centre.
This is a big event and is held following the Telstra Art Award which was last Friday night. The Telstra Art Award is THE biggest Aboriginal art prize in the nation.

Wow! What can I say? There were art centres from the Kimberleys, from near Geraldton, and from many parts of the Northern Territory. Some centres are obviously more experienced and skilful at selling and promoting than others.

Massive fish traps were handing from the ceiling and had been threaded with tiny lights. Impressive. These may have been for sale, but you would need a rather high ceiling in your home.

Minutes after I saw this basket it was sold and wrapped for posting.
Size? About 70 cm high plus the handle. Very sturdy. Very fine work.
The quality was generally very high and the prices ranged from low to high. Mostly the works were based on traditional images. One company had a stall where your new purchases could be wrapped and sent anywhere in the world.

Paintings were cheap. You could get some traditional works for under $1000. Modern pieces were a little less. Not strikingly modern. I did not see any works on bark. Most were on canvas, but some were on paper.

Baskets have increased in price quite a lot. Nothing under $200. Plenty around the $1000 mark. The amount of time and effort that goes into these baskets is amazing. You would not sell your own work so cheaply.
This art centre worker was wearing a dress made from one of the fabrics.
Her own design. Absolutely stunning in real life.

Some terrific woven mats.

Interesting poker work.

Fabrics were expensive. Many were very beautiful. The panels from Torres Strait apealed to me the most. Maybe next year they might sell some scraps for patchwork. You would only need a few pieces and some coordinating plains.

Pottery was reasonable.

Beads were priced to suit the market, even the strings containing shells.

Sculpture was variable. I loved the turtle that was a combination of sculpture and weaving, but forgot to photograph it. Huge. Two metres across.
These pieces of pottery (or porcelain) was decorated in the Middle Eastern style,
but utilising traditional designs too.

I did not see any pieces of glass art even though the winner of the Telstra Art Award was a glass interpretation of a woven fish trap.

Did I see my friends? Yes, we met some.
Did I buy anything? Of course. Some striking hand printed cards will be great for special birthdays. And a hand printed shopping bag from near Alice Springs will really impress someone at Christmas time.

There were many demonstrations of artists working. Painting. Weaving. Carving.

And hundreds of people. And they kept coming. Parking? You wish! We walked for about 15 minutes from our parking spot to the convention centre. By the time we left, add another three or four minutes.
This artist was demonstrating a weaving method I had not seen before.
She used a combination of grass and pandanus.
See the Morning Star poles behind her.
The artists do not use ochre any more, but either proper artist's paints or acrylics from a hardware store.


  1. Oh that looks like fun. i love to see artists working too. those fabrics are gorgeous. Yes sometimes you can do something like make a plain dress and then just have a pocket in a featured fabric.

  2. I love Aboriginal artwork, it is so beautiful. The colours are amazing, I particularly love the pottery pieces and the beautiful fabric. It would have been interesting to the artist weaving just to see the skill involved.


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