Oh to be in Darwin now that Telstra’s here! Well almost – we’ll know the winners at 6pm Sydney time on Friday. But many of the Salon shows are already on – 8 shows in four very crowded galleries – and the Salon de Refuses goes online tomorrow. Next day, the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair goes virtual, with its fashion offshoot on NITV Facebook tonight!

Sadly, there’s no point in hoping to go to Cairns later this month. The planned Cairns Indigenous Art Fair will now be held between Wednesday 10th and Sunday 14th November – also offering a digital platform with exclusive digital content (featuring conversations, artists insights, performances, and an online art store, etc).

So, lets’ run quickly through the Darwinian treats:
Carbiene McDonald solo is at Outstation Gallery in Parap only until 6th August. His tjukurrpa are associated with a series of waterholes running between Docker River and Kata Tjuta. As a young man, Carbiene returned to these places and retraced the footsteps of his father. These memories stay with him vividly today.

‘Maru munu piranpa’ (black and white) is at the Paul Johnstone Gallery on the edge of the CBD, and it showcases a selection of outstanding works by leading Kaltjiti Arts painters including Taylor Cooper, Witjiti George, Matjangka (Nyukana) Norris and Imitjala Curley. This show runs until 28th August.

Patsy Mudgedell solo is also at the PJ Gallery until 28th. She is a contemporary artist at Balgo redefining what Aboriginal art is, and can be. Through richly textured paintings, Patsy encourages respect for country: ‘… an artwork is a good way of showing that respect. It’s alive like we are alive. Growing up in those tribal places I’ve learned that the land is special in the sense that it is not what it seems. There’s a lot to it, the land can talk to you. The land can have a relationship with you. It takes care of humans and humans can take care of the land. It’s an active thing. This is why people have a duty of care to their areas. They have a responsibility and with that comes authenticity”.

Pauline Sunfly is also from Balgo and paints her parents’ Country, the ancestral places south of her home which borders both the Tanami Desert and the Great Sandy Desert. Her striking paintings depict ancestral paths, ceremonial designs and the stories of important Tjukurrpa sites associated with the native cat, goanna and kingfisher. They have distinct associations with the work of her eminent father, Sunfly Nampitjin. Pauline shares PJ Gallery space with Patsy.

Down in Alice the Yarrenytjy-Arltere Artists make soft sculptures and are exhibiting them in Darwin at MAGNT’s Tactile Arts Studio until 14th August. ‘Waltja Tjuta’ is Family, and it emerges from an art room where as many as eight languages may be spoken at any one time. “Sometimes we need it not just for art but because things get really stressful, and here we can stop worrying. We can’t live without our art anymore and we can’t live without this room and we can never live without family”, they say.

Murrŋiny‘ is the Yolŋu word for steel. It is also the name by which this ancient nation was known by its neighbours and the first Europeans who encountered them. Murrŋiny references the shovel nosed spears which were the Yolngu trademark. Now that steel comes from old signs. And a group of eight Yolŋu artists from Yirrkala have come to rescue, recycle and rework these battered warriors in remarkable new ways.

“Hit by shotguns, burnt by dry season fires, rusted by monsoonal rain, discarded signs litter Territory roadsides. The power of the rules and warnings they once shouted have faded like their glossy reflective paint,” assesses the inimitable Will Stubbs, Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre bossman.

This new work is on show at the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art in Parap until 25th September.

Finally, Spinifex man Timo Hogan’s solo is on at Outstation Gallery until 28th August. ‘Pantutjara‘ is Lake Baker – the sole subject of his stunning, mostly black and white art; a place he visited in youth with his now-ailing father, Neville McCarthur. But it resonates in his responsibilities to tell the story of the Wati Wanampi – the blind water serpent who resides in the lake – and the Wati Kutjara whose Songline passes through it.

“Timo Hogan does not paint the picture. He paints the story. And the story is the big picture. He calmly applies the paint to Lake Baker with the quiet authority of someone recreating the country they know intimately. For here at Lake Baker, Timo tells of the religion within the landscape and the inhabitants that made it so”.

This is already a sell-out!