Last weekend I was in Washington DC for the annual conference of the American Library Association. The city was crowded, the weather sub-tropical, but I managed to escape for a while to the deserts of Centralia by visiting the Australian Embassy as the guest of Director of cultural Affairs Brendan Wall to see Circles in the Sand: Aboriginal Art from Central Australia in the Kluge-Ruhe Collection , which opened at the Embassy’s art gallery on June 14.

After passing through security at the Embassy, I found myself in the main foyer face to face with the enormous collective work from Warlukurlangu Artists, Karrku Jukurrpa (1996). Commissioned by John Kluge and the work of twenty-nine women and five men, the canvas stands nearly ten feet tall and over twenty feet long (280 x 680 cm). Howard Morphy retells the Dreaming story behind this epic canvas in his monograph Aboriginal Art (Phaidon, 1998).