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Salon Indigenous Art Projects

Six years ago gallery owners Matt Ward and Paul Johnstone joined forces to create Salon des Refusés – an exhibition to showcase the works rejected by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA).

by Tamara Howie.

What the pair discovered was a broad cross section of talented, emerging Indigenous artists who didn’t have many opportunities to exhibit their work.

“We saw the potential in these communities and these artists,” Johnstone says.

Lots of opportunities started to arise, including closer working relationships with new community arts centres and new gallery spaces in Darwin.

“It came to a point where there was so much happening, in so many different forms, that we said ‘why don’t we start a new company?’,” Johnstone explains.

SALON Indigenous Art Projects was born.

“We were looking for a way to conflate our ideas. The namesake SALON is the perfect way to identify the Indigenous art projects we are presenting together.“

SALON will not only represent shows happening in Darwin this year – we are planning on taking SALON projects interstate and overseas.”

Ward and Johnstone each own Indigenous art galleries in Darwin – Outstation and Paul Johnstone Gallery respectively – which focus on the higher-end of the market. SALON will focus on emerging artists and affordable art.                                                                      

“It’s twofold – it’s partly to help provide access for consumers to more affordable Aboriginal art, but it’s also for the sake of the artists,” Ward says.

“These artists haven’t had the opportunities and there hasn’t been a market created for their work.

“There’s been a focus in Darwin on high-end work, which excludes some artists and artists who aren’t ready to have a show in a commercial gallery yet.”

The first venture of SALON is already open in Darwin at the new Searcy St Gallery, in the old Viva La Body shopfront.

Currently, work from Ampilatwatja artists is on show, and new exhibitions will pop up over the next three months. At the beginning of July the next leg will open with a permanent set up in Parap at the Vickers St Gallery, previously the Nomad Art space.

SALON will also capitalise on the Indigenous art buzz in August with five solo-exhibitions in different venues around Darwin, and the Salon des Refusés at Charles Darwin University Art Gallery.

These shows will reach an audience in Darwin thirsty for Indigenous art, and complement the NATSIAA and Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, also held in August.

At the core of the pair’s existing individual businesses, and the new joint endeavour, is the art and the artists.

“One thing that’s really important, and the main thing that drives Matt and I, is people purchasing ethical art from ethical places, i.e. community arts centres,” Johnstone says.

“With a growing demand for Indigenous art there’re also more unscrupulous dealers that are entering into the area, so we want to make sure we educate the buyer as well as enable them to buy quality, ethical work.”

The Artists of Ampilatwatja | Until Sat 30 Jun | Searcy St Gallery | 

Emerging Indigenous Artists | Early Jul | Vickers St Gallery

Salon des Refusés | Wed 8 Aug – Sat 29 Sep | Opening Wed 8 Aug, 6pm | Charles Darwin University Art Gallery

Taylor Cooper and Witjiti George – These two are sitting together as friends | Fri 10 – Sat 25 Aug | Opening Fri 10 Aug, 1-3pm | Paul Johnstone Gallery

Pepai Carroll | Wed 1 – Fri 31 Aug | Official Opening Sat 11 Aug, 11am-1pm | Outstation Gallery

Barayuwa Munungurr – The Bones Beneath | Wed 1 – Fri 31 Aug | Official Opening Thu 9 Aug, 4-6pm | Searcy St Gallery

Mick Rictor | Fri 10 – Mon 20 Aug | Opening Fri 10 Aug, 3.30-5.30pm | Tactile Arts

Mulkun Wirrapanda – Maypal: Shellfish of the Arafura Coast | Wed 1 – Fri 31 Aug | Official Opening Sat 11 Aug, 12.30-2.30pm | Vickers St Gallery


Header: Kindy Kemarre Ross, ‘View of Country’ (detail), acrylic on linen, 91 x 91cm

Top left: Mick Rictor, Untitled, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 110 x 85cm

Thumbnail and top right: Mulkun Wirrapanda, 'Gan'Karr (tectus pyramis - Pyramid Top Snail)' (detail), 2018, ochre and fixative on bark




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