Indigenous cultural leader, Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin has this week taken up the newly created role to drive the planning, programming and curation for Adelaide’s Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre. The job is Assistant Director, Program and Strategy and she will work closely with collecting institutions, internal and external stakeholders, while curating a vision, strategy and implementation plan for the Centre, which will begin construction later this year.

Miss Buckskin is a Narungga, Kaurna, Wirangu, Wotjobaluk woman who has won major awards for her work including the prestigious Sidney Myer Facilitator Prize. She was the first Indigenous person to be appointed Deputy Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts, and was the Aboriginal Strategy Executive at the South Australian Film Commission. She is a member of the National Museum of Australia’s Indigenous Advisory Committee and is Co-Chair of the Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts coming up in October at the Art Gallery of SA.

As an artist herself, she is a member of the Country Arts South Australia Aboriginal Reference Group and an independent Director of the Ku Arts Board for South Australian art centres and artists, especially those across the APY Lands. Most recently, Lee-Ann was Executive Consultant for Aboriginal Screen Strategy with the South Australian Film Corporation. Lee-Ann has advised on scripts for both national and international TV and feature films including those for Warner Brothers and HBO. A public artist, she was the Aboriginal designer for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial in Adelaide.

Ironically, Miss Buckskin was appointed by the former ALP Weatherill Government to help judge its design competition for the now-scrapped Adelaide Contemporary gallery at Lot Fourteen. The current Liberal Government replaced that plan with the far more consequential First Nations cultural institution, which has the potential to do much to contextualise the art that appears in galleries across the world.

Premier Steven Marshall was very pleased to welcome Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin to the growing team. “Bringing on Miss Buckskin signifies a pivotal milestone in the continuing progress of the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre, a major cultural tourist attractor and landmark centre for South Australia. From project inception, representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has been at the core of the project and will continue to be so under Miss Buckskin’s Leadership”, he explained

The AACC’s plans offer an immersive cultural experience combining traditional storytelling with modern technology. The landmark building will include spaces for permanent and visiting gallery exhibitions, cultural performances, meetings and ceremonies, and include a café and retail space.

Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin said that she’s thrilled to be chosen to be part of a dynamic team who will lead the programming and curatorial related development of the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre. “I look forward to developing a vision for our communities and international visitors to engage, learn, explore and connect with the history, art and contemporary culture of Australia’s First Peoples. My role will draw upon a wealth of local knowledge and experience which will inform the programs curated in the space. The collaborative approach is embedded in Indigenous cultural practice and represents a millennium of trial and error, testing and listening to the bonds of people and landscape.”

Should we assume that Lee-Ann is related to the dynamic Kaurna language reviver, Jack Kanya Buckskin?

David Rathman, ambassador for the AACC and Chair of the its Aboriginal Reference Group says, “We welcome Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin to the team and look forward to seeing her curatorial vision for the Centre unfold”.

According to the local online outlet, In-Daily, candidates were originally shortlisted for the Assistant Director role earlier in the year, but the Government decided not to proceed with an appointment. It instead readvertised the position “to enable further Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have the opportunity to apply”.