Aboriginal art

Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 12:04 AM
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Aboriginal art

I have a new interest in aboriginal art and would like to visit some of the areas where this work originates. Does anyone have experience with groups in the US or in Australia (or anywhere, for that matter) who specialize in this sort of trip? Thank you.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 05:06 AM
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We have spent time in Arnhem Land, visiting artists and buying artwork. In particular, there is a village called Oenpelli (a/k/a Gunbalanya) that is quite close to Kakadu. You can obtain a permit to travel there from the Northern Land Council Office in Jabiru. In Oenpelli, there is a government-supported artists' cooperative, Injalak Art Centre (http://www.injalak.com/more_about_injalak.html), which purchases artwork, and then sells the work to galleries. The artists work throughout The Wet season, and the Centre stockpiles the art for shipping during The Dry season. So, if you arrive at the beginning of The Dry (May), you will encounter a warehouse brimming with art. Many artists work in and around the Centre, so you can meet them. The only catch - you'll need a 4WD vehicle to cross the Alligator River, or be REALLY stupid like we were, and attempt the crossing in a 2WD van.

There are a couple of tours that include Arnhem Land stops. Venture North (http://www.northernaustralia.com/arnhem.html) runs such tours, and are also available for private charter.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 09:47 AM
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FYI: Our experience in trying to visit Oenpelli was horrible. We went to the Northern Land Council Office in Jabiru to obtain a permit to visit and the people there treated us as if we wanted to go for some nefarious reasons. We were given the third degree on our reasons for going. I had (foolishly, as it turns out) assumed that we would be welcome to visit as the artists' cooperative was established to provide income for the residents. Anyway, after having been treated so shabbily by the employees of the Northern Land Council Office, we decided that our money would be better spent in another part of Australia.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 11:49 AM
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Linhelen, if you do a search on this forum for "Aboriginal Art", you will find a lot of info. Don't know whether there are tours mentioned specifically. I know there are small group tours operated from Alice Springs, but don't know the name of the operators. You could try googling "Art Galleries - Alice Springs"; you might find tours mentioned on their websites. Alternatively, you could contact an Alice Springs (or Darwin ) travel Agent. (www.yellowpages.com.au or Google). Sorry can't give you specific tour names etc., but hope this might at least be a start.

Are you planning a visit to Australis specifically to do this tour? I ask because if you were coming here anyway, it might help others to pinpoint something for you if we knew where you were headed.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2005, 02:24 AM
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Just read you are a Texan. I lived there a bit in the Rio Grand Valley. Experience though I did get a bit bored after a bit.

Regarding your experience with Aboriginal Land Council. I have never been to Oenpelli. Ok I admit, I never even heard of it. But I may understand a little the reaction you had.

Aborigines are not a tourist attraction but for many years they have been treated as a curiosity by so many and I think they want their own space now and will protect that much as they can.

I hope I am right, otherwise we have done them yet another disservice

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Old Nov 23rd, 2005, 05:11 AM
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I was not treated badly at the Northern Land Office, but was certainly treated indifferently. It took me a couple of days to actually obtain the permit. As pointed out above, they are not necessarily viewing this as an opportunity to earn tourist dollars, and do look suspiciously on why we would want to travel through their land. It is my impression that the Injalak Art Centre is more of a wholesaler operation, and is not set up terribly well for folks who show up to visit and purchase art work. A lot of the artists are not necessarily astute businessmen, so they rely on the co-op to buy the artwork and support them, particularly during The 'off' Wet season.
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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 03:40 AM
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We toured the top of Australia searching for art work a couple of years back.

We found very serious art work at places like Turkey Creek, Kalumbaru, Oenpelli, Mitchelle Plateau, Lockhart River, and Mapoon.

The Aboriginals treated us extremely well, on several occasions they took us into their houses to see where they paint.

We visited many other places where there was an abundance of art, one night we slept in a cave decorated with Bradshaw art supposedly the oldest art known to man.

On most occasions when we landed on the dust strips near the individual towns there were people waiting for us in 4wds to show us their art.

We purchased art painted on bark, seeds from trees, tree roots, slate, linen and canvas.
Our most prized possessions came out of the Roper River District.
( Barney Ellaga country )
It is important to be with some one who knows the people and the districts they live.

Talk to Greg at www.daintreeair.com.au

He knew many of the Aboriginals on first name basis.

He organized all of the meetings.
The art we have is superb, but the experience of traveling to the communities meeting the people we met was a once in a life time unforgettable event.

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