An extraordinary journey has begun for a group of artists from the Barkly region who have been invited to showcase their work at Tandanya.

Tying in with Tandanya’s 20th Anniversary celebrations this year, a two-year exhibition in the making, Artists of the Barkly, will officially be launched 12 August.

The seeds for an exhibition were planted way back in December 2007 when a group of 10 Aboriginal women artists from Julalikari Arts in Tennant Creek, NT, sat down with staff and management from Tandanya.

Representing five different language groups from the Barkly region, the women were on a professional development and arts industry study tour of public and private galleries, cultural institutions, Indigenous art collections and art schools.

Despite being somewhat bewildered by the sight of people openly drinking alcohol on footpath tables, embarrassed by the immodesty of Adelaide summer attire, and homesick for their country, the women absorbed an enormous amount of arts business information and cultural understanding.

From there discussions between Tandanya and Barkly Regional Arts, which represents artists and art centres throughout the Barkly, began in earnest last year.

Artists in the area were eager to join with Tandanya to help celebrate its 20 years of arts engagement and support for Aboriginal people. They also saw an opportunity to tell their story through their most effective medium, the arts, said Alan Murn, Barkly Regional Arts CEO.

In mounting this exhibition, both Barkly Regional Arts and Tandanya have been mindful to represent the artistic landscape of around 11 different language areas of the Barkly honestly and transparently.

Selection was not about artistic excellence alone. We have presented a collection that represents long and short-term art centre support, larger communities with established arts networks, artists who have accessed arts skills training, or artists from small remote outstations who might simply be a couple of families painting together, said Mr Murn.

The works are concerned with country, culture, family, kinship, language, bush tucker, animals and community life. These are the important messages from the region

As Junior (Jupurula) Frank from Nyinkka Nyunyu Arts, Tennant Creek, NT, explained: Us Aboriginal people, we respect our country and our trees. When I go out and cut tress I respect that tree and I respect that country. When I make it into a boomerang or coolamon or something I put time and effort into it. We’ve got respect for everything we do and everything takes time and effort and patience.

Mr Murn added that the exhibition is about telling the regional story and offering a visual conduit to assist their audience ˜down south’ to understand.

We gotta help them whitefellas understand, said Annie Grant, Julalikari Arts, Tennant Creek , NT.

The journey to Tandanya has been long. But the truly remarkable facet of the journey is that a group of Aboriginal artists have worked together across the traditional language and cultural complexities to proudly bring their collective story of reconciliation and diversity.

Url: http://www.tandanya.com.au/nd47/artists-of-the-barkly/

Artist: Gregory Japarta Jackson, Clarinda Nambijina Williams, Fiona Neade Nalyirri, Samantha Raymond Nawurla, Amy Friday, Nancy McDinny, Norman Kingsley, Reggie Hoosan, Stewart Hoosan, Thelma Dixon, Mark Jungarrayi Graham, Junior Jurpurrula Frank, Susan Nelson, Flora Holt, Peggy Jones, Lindy Brodie, Annie Grant, Lorna Duggie Napanangka, Louise Nungala Rankine, Janice Rankine, Elizabeth Napaljari Jackson, Audrey Nungala Rankine, Alfie Jungarrayi Murphy Brown, Eva Nappanangka Kelly, Marie Nappanangka Rennie, Susie Ngwarrai Peterson, Rita Beasley, Julie Peterson, Gladys Beasley, Jessie Patterson, Kaye Beasley, Jimmy Kemarra Lewis, Janella Woodman, Jimmy Pula Rabuntja, Lorna Pula Corbett, Della Tanami, Veronica Bonny, Sandra Bob, Marlene Philomac, Alana Holmes, Angelina Luck, Rosie K Morton, Jilly Holmes, Rosie N Morton, Murphy Teece, Traphina Beasley, Doris Elkedra, Selina Teece, Rita Beasley, Nita Nakamarra Dickenson, Lucy Tanami, May Nampijinpa Wilson, Maria Napanagka Dickenson, Judy Nampijninpa Long, George Jungarrayi Ryder, Joe Japangardi Marshall, Charlie Jampijinpa Brown, Dorothy Napurrurla Dixon, Zeza Nampijinpa/Nkamarra Egan

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Gallery: Tandanya ““ National Aboriginal Cultural Institute ,