Today, the Council of the National Gallery of Australia has announced its decision to postpone the Ngura Pulka – Epic Country exhibition which was intended to show the works of artists painting for the APY Art Centre Collective.
“This decision”, the NGA press release says, “is based on the independent review panel requiring more time to fully complete their work, and the decision of the Australian, South Australian and Northern Territory governments to undertake a South Australian-led review, with the support of the Federal Government”.

As the show was intended to open last weekend, the announcement has not come as a surprise. The panel of two lawyers and two urban Aboriginal advisers began work in early May, though the later announcement that the three governments involved would also hold an enquiry could have got both confusing and competitive if the two panels had come up with different conclusions. The tri-government enquiry has not been detailed as yet.

An interesting aspect of the NGA’s press release is the absence of the full APYACC acronym in its statement. The APYACC had had exclusive access to Ngura Pulka, leaving other APY artists out of the picture. But the press release continues: “The National Gallery will work with the artists and Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) community leaders in relation to the exhibition and will await the outcome of both reviews. The National Gallery is committed to continuing to work with APY Lands artists and supporting their ground-breaking work”.

In another development, the four major uber organisations for community art centres – Desart, ANKA, AACHWA and Ku Arts, representing the vast geographical spread of remote Aboriginal artists – have all called for the head of APYACC, Skye O’Meara to step down while these enquiries continue.

Meanwhile, I noted that the APYACC Gallery in Melbourne, undaunted, opened an exhibition last week – the Burton Women Group Show from Tjala Arts, which is the art centre where film was taken of non-Indigenous facilitators taking their paint brushes to a Yaritji Young canvas.