Indigenous arts in the Top End By Liz Rogers


Indigenous artist and Baluk Arts operations co-ordinator Tallara Gray has just returned from this year’s Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, held in the Northern Territory in August, on a high. This was her second year at the fair, which she says “felt so different from last year when my eyes were wide open with wonder”.

“This year I knew what to expect, although it was much bigger and there was more to see. It was a whirlwind but amazing.”

The first DAAF was held in 2007 and included 16 Aboriginal-owned incorporated art centres. In its 12th year, 2018’s DAAF was filled with artist workshops and demonstrations, artist talks, Indigenous food experiences, cultural performances and story-telling and coincided with such events as the National Indigenous Music Awards. More than 2000 Indigenous artists from across Australia were showcased with 100 per cent of revenue going back to remote communities.

As a descendant of the Yadhaigana people of Cape York, Tallara understands how important it is to ethically promote and support the artwork of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art centres. She explains. “DAAF shows that we are a diverse people sharing our culture and that Aboriginal people in urban areas have a different artistic response. Baluk Arts is one of only two art centres from Victoria represented at the fair. This year there were four of us on the Baluk Arts stall. I took my jewellery made from natural materials, including kelp and river reed, sculptures and mixed media work and had a great response. I make all my work through Baluk Arts to ensure it is consumed ethically.”

This Frankston resident and Fine Art graduate from the Queensland University of Technology has been making art for as long as she can remember. She currently has work on show at The Gallery at Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre as part of the Freshwater/Saltwater exhibition, and at 25 she’s one of the youngest Indigenous artists to attend DAAF.

Top stuff, Tallara. The only way is up.


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