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Together Again

For 16 years, the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) has championed the creativity coming out of Art Centres in remote Indigenous communities across Australia.

Delivered in a digital format for the past two years, arts lovers and old friends rejoice and reunite, as DAAF returns to Larrakia Country with creativity, colour, and all of the feels.

By Tierney Seccull

If you’ve missed perusing the many wonderful stalls of DAAF over the last couple of years, you’re not alone. The return of the Fair to its physical format at Darwin Convention Centre is a welcome and exciting one.

DAAF Foundation (DAAFF) is part of a collective of events celebrating First Nations art, design, music and ideas in the Top End, including Garma Festival, Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMA), and Salon Art Projects. 

Shilo McNamee is DAAFF’s Artistic Director, a local Indigenous artist, musician and curator, and says an exciting development in 2022 is that online audiences from recent years aren’t left behind, the Fair maintaining its newfound existence in a digital space.

“This year, each Art Centre will have their own online presence, some will have a physical booth, some will have an online booth, some will have both! The online platform serves as a directory for people wanting a bit more information, to look up the Art Centres and artists,” she says.

Lockdowns and community safety were at the forefront of DAAFF’s decision to cancel the in-person event in 2020 and 2021, and go digital. But pulling the pin altogether wasn’t an option, acknowledging the income the Fair generates for artists and Art Centres would have been far too devastating to lose.

“That’s something that was really important to us, and something we saw as essential. We sought feedback from all of our Art Centres, reconnecting with each and every one of them to see whether they did want a fair. Was this the best way to help them and support them through these really difficult times?

“We were met with really positive feedback, which is why we redeveloped and reimagined the fair for the online space. We want to make sure we’re still reaching those audiences and keeping the artists and the art fair in people’s minds.”

DAAFF Executive Director Claire Summers says things could have gone either way.

“What started out as something that could have been catastrophic for our industry ended up turning into a huge opportunity for the Indigenous art sector,” she says.

“That was to go online, to start developing our online skills in how we engage digitally with our audiences. In ‘20 and ‘21, we were forced to go online, but this year we have a choice. 

“We thought, what better than to pair our learning from the last couple of years and combine that with what is an incredibly beloved event in Darwin, and also nationally and globally? It’s our absolute pleasure to present a hybrid event this year.”

And, due to the inaugural hybrid format, this year’s DAAF is set to be the biggest yet.

“There are just as many Art Centres attending online as there are in person, and collectively there are 77 Art Centres that DAAF is presenting through the two components of our event this year, which is a record,” Claire says.

In the physical world, on Larrakia Country, arts lovers are champing at the bit to get through the doors. Shilo says some exciting new additions to the public program this year make the Fair’s return even more special.

“I’m excited about our demonstration space. Artists that are working with natural materials and fibres have the opportunity to share a bit of their process – kind of like a live studio situation. I think it gives people context as to what actually goes into creating a lot of these works – it’s an interesting thing for people to have a bit of a sticky beak in on,” she says. 

“We’ve got indoor and outdoor workshops happening each day. Screen printing and weaving – we’ve also got lino printing this year, with the Bábbarra Women’s Centre. They did an online workshop last year, so it’s lovely to have them back to deliver this workshop in the physical space.

“We have the amazing Torres Strait Island Dancers, who always bring a wonderful show with a lot of performers and great costumes – that’s one to keep your eye out for!”

In addition to the internationally celebrated art fair are DAAFF’s Indigenous Fashion Projects events – Country to Couture and the National Indigenous Fashion Awards – bringing the country’s most acclaimed First Nations artists and designers to the national and global stage. 

It’s been a long time between catch-ups, and the DAAFF team are expecting it to be very, very special.

“It’s going to be just the most unbelievably emotional experience to bring our community back together after three years of not seeing each other in person – there will be tears, there will be hugs, there will be so much love in the room,” Claire says.

“It will be magical to be able to celebrate coming together again.”


Our beautiful cover art this month is by Kershini Napaljarri Collins from Warlukurlangu Artists, also known as Warlu. It is one of the longest running and most successful Aboriginal-owned art centres in Central Australia, based in Yuemdumu Community.

Warlu has a national and international profile, and its art has been featured in hundreds of exhibitions and publications in Australia and around the world. Warlukurlangu means ‘belonging to fire’ in the local language, Warlpiri, and is named after a fire dreaming site west of Yuendumu.


Indigenous Fashion Projects

Some of the country’s most revered First Nations artists and fashion designers come together on Larrakia Country for two very special fashion events this month. 

Read about the exciting flagship events in First Nations Fashion

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair


Alongside the Fair, visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant Public Program. All workshops have sold out, and you can register online for the waitlist, but there’s still a swag of amazing free events to enjoy!


Cultural Performance: Abai Sagulau Buai Dance Team
Enjoy a cultural performance from the Abai Sagulau Buai Dance Team from Badu Island, Torres Strait.
WHEN 11-11.30AM

Demonstration: Bábbarra Women’s Centre
Sit in on this art demo with Jay Jurrupula Rostron and Raylene Bonson from Bábbarra Women’s Centre, as they bush brush and ochre to paint on paper.

Cultural Performance: Munupi Arts and Culture - Tiwi Singer and Dancers
Located along Melville Islands’ north-western coastline, at Pirlangimpi, is Munupi Arts. Don’t miss this special cultural performance, all the way from Tiwi.
WHEN 2-2.30PM


Cultural Performance: Peppimenarti Dancers
Performing songs from two different clan groups from West Daly, Wongga and Lirrga.
WHEN 11-11.30AM

Demonstration: Painting with Warnayaka Arts
Enjoy sitting in as Ursula Napangardi Marks from Warnayaka Arts does some painting. 


Cultural Performance: Abai Sagulau Buai Dance Team

Demonstration: Pandanus Natural Fibre Weaving
Pandanus natural fibre weaving with Injalak Arts’ Christine Nabobbob, Selina Nadjowh, Helen Nawirridj, and Merrill Namundja.

Important update: Industry Talks listed in the August edition have been cancelled. 


Thumbnail & inset: Cassandra Trevilyan Hayes of Mimi Aboriginal Art Craft at the 2019 DAAF
Header & inset: Kershini Napaljarri Collins, 'Ngatijirri Jukurrpa (Budgerigar Dreaming)', 2022, acrylic on cotton canvas, 46x30cm. Photo courtesy of Warlukurlangu Artists
Left: Country to Couture Finale 2021. Photo: Dylan Buckee

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