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Taking Territory to the Globe

Supporting Indigenous owned Art Centres is what the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) is all about. A silver lining during the global pandemic means the world has access – for the first time – to our incredible bounty of Indigenous art, this year’s new digital format set to take DAAF to the next level.

By Anna Dowd

This month over nine days, DAAF is set to showcase the work of artists from 68 Art Centres around Australia, connecting with audiences and buyers across the country and the world.

DAAF Foundation Executive Director Claire Summers says adapting the physical fair to the times is an exciting opportunity.

“By moving to a digital platform, we can reach a truly global audience and help people from all walks of life explore the wonderful world of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and design,” she says.

“In either an online or offline format, DAAF creates an important meeting place for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come together to celebrate the rich heritage and vibrant culture of our First Nations Peoples.”

From the bush-dyed silks of the Gulf of Carpentaria to Daly River pandanus and sand-palm fibre works, and bright, finely dotted landscape paintings of the Central Desert, the breadth of artistic practice on display will enthral. Central to DAAF’s mission – whether it’s a screen-printed shirt for $30 or a $30,000 painting by an established artist – every dollar is returned to the artists and their respective communities.

The 2020 DAAF experience includes cultural performances from Mornington Island and the Torres Strait, artist masterclasses in weaving and painting delivered online (and via post) to your living room, and a livestreaming of the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA).

In DAAF’s 14th year, the addition of the NIFA is an exciting expansion of what is already Australia’s largest Indigenous art event.

NIFA Creative Director Nina Fitzgerald says it’s a natural step, given the rise of textile art practices in remote Art Centres, and recent, hugely successful partnerships with high end fashion designers like Gorman.

“The NIFA are a platform to recognise innovation, diversity, and ethical practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander textile artists and fashion designers.”

She says the wildly popular Country to Couture fashion show, postponed until a later date this year, shows just how alive the Indigenous fashion space is.

“Textiles and fashion design has been booming at the Fair. The interest and growth is massive, as is the calibre of textile creatives already working in the sector. The six categories and over 30 nominees in these inaugural awards reflect this.”

Fitzgerald says the NIFA are yet another example of cultural excellence. The Alliance formed in 2019 between the country’s cornerstone Indigenous events – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Garma Festival, National Indigenous Music Awards, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (including NIFA and Country to Couture) and Salon Art Projects – makes even more visible the powerhouse of Indigenous cultural events held each August in the Top End.

“These five organisations together host the most outstanding, high-profile awards in Indigenous visuals arts, music and politics.

“They are proudly celebrating Indigenous Australia, educating the public, and together make a very powerful offering.”

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

National Indigenous Fashion Awards

Header: Theo (Faye) Nangala Hudson, 'Lappi Lappi Jukurrpa' (detail), 2018, acrylic on Belgium linen, 107x107cm. Photo courtesy Warlukurlangu Artists
Top: Eunice Napanangka Jack, Ikuntji ArtistsStudio, 2018, Photo: Chrischona Schmidt, Courtesy Ikuntji Artists
Bottom: 2019 North Tiwi Collection. Photo: Kate Noble Photography


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