The Art Gallery of South Australia’s popular Tarnanthi Art Fair returns in 2023 as both an in-person and online event, after two years of being presented online only.
The Tarnanthi Art Fair will run from Friday 20 October to Sunday 22 October, with the in-person Art Fair at a new venue – the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
The Tarnanthi Art Fair forms part of Tarnanthi, the Art Gallery of South Australia’s festival of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. The 2023 Tarnanthi Festival features the work of more than 1500 artists in exhibitions and events at AGSA and venues across South Australia from Port Pirie to Port Adelaide.
The physical Art Fair provides a unique opportunity to meet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, learn about their world and ideas, and buy works of art. Exclusive to Adelaide, this popular curated art event brings together works in diverse mediums, produced by hundreds of established and emerging, regional and city-based artists from across Australia.
Collectively this year’s Art Fair will see artists travel a total of 127,163 kms – a whopping eight and a half laps around Australia. This is an opportunity for the artists to network with fellow artists, engage and make a personal connection with the buyer and speak in person about their work.
The artists share cultural stories from across Australia through works that combine traditional techniques with contemporary practice. Through these works, buyers can journey from the islands at the Top End through to the expanses of the Central and Western Desert; and from the rainforests of Far North Queensland to Australia’s southern coastline.
If you can’t make it to the physical Art Fair, you can browse and buy online, day and night, from home on Kaurna Country, around the country or in any country around the world. The online Art Fair is accessible via an easy-to-use digital platform. Please note that the live and online fairs will present different offerings.
Now in its eighth year, the 2023 Tarnanthi Art Fair brings together more than 50 art centres from across Australia, with thousands of works from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists for sale. Works for sale include paintings, ceramics, sculpture, woven objects, jewellery, textiles, clothes and homewares. Prices range from under $50 to $15,000
Importantly, every dollar from in-person and online sales goes directly to the artists and their community-run art centres – delivering economic benefits directly to communities.
Tarnanthi Artistic Director Nici Cumpston OAM says, ‘The Tarnanthi Art Fair celebrates the diversity and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. This year, we’re thrilled that the event will be at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre as well as presenting the Art Fair as on online event, giving people across the world the opportunity to bring these stories into their homes and be reminded every day of the deep history that our nation holds.’
Minister for the Arts Andrea Michael MP says, ‘The Tarnanthi Art Fair is the premiere First Nations art fair in Australia with Indigenous artists coming from right around the nation to engage with the public and showcase their work. It is an incredible celebration of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and the addition of the online Art Fair allows those outside of South Australia to experience it too.’
Rising sales from previous Tarnanthi Art Fairs suggest growing demand for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art among buyers across Australia and around the world. In 2021, the Tarnanthi Art Fair (a completely online event) saw record sales achieved of $1.4 million, surpassing its previous record by 16%. More than 2500 unique works of art were shipped to their new owners across the country and internationally, including in Asia, Europe and the USA.
AGSA Director Rhana Devenport ONZM says, ‘Art production is a vital source of income for remote communities – income that supports economic empowerment and cultural resilience. Through the Tarnanthi Art Fair, buyers are guaranteed that their purchases directly support this country’s established, emerging and next generation of First Nations artists and their communities.’
Ku Arts, a South Australian support organisation for Aboriginal art centres and artists along with Arts Ceduna artists will be working in situ at the Tarnanthi Art Fair to create a Leafy Sea Dragon (Phycodurus eques) made from marine debris collected along the Far West Coastlines of the Eyre Peninsula, a natural habitat for the Leafy Sea Dragon. During the drop-in, hands-on workshop at the Tarnanthi Art Fair, the public will be invited to join Arts Ceduna artists in creating sculptural marine debris elements to be added to the Leafy Sea Dragon.
The Leafy Sea Dragon, endemic to South Australia, is an important emblem for many communities, selected through conversation with Kaurna Elder Lynette Crocker who says, ‘‘The leafy sea dragon is the official marine emblem of South Australia. There is a stable population of leafy sea dragons under the jetties at Yankalilla. This pristine section of St Vincent Coast is a blooming underwater world featuring a population of coloured sea squirts, sharks, stingray, cuttlefish, seagrass, coloured sands and ochres.’
The Leafy Sea Dragon frame has been constructed at Arts Ceduna, supported by Western Australian sculptor Cecile Williams, during a 4-week creative skills development workshop supported by Ku Arts.
In another highlight of the physical Art Fair, the digital project ‘UPLANDS Art, Culture, Country’ will transport audiences into the heart of Indigenous communities across Australia. Not-for-profit organisation Agency has partnered with more than 20 remote First Nations art centres across the country to deliver the landmark digital project, which invites Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to share their art centres, community collections, and artistic and cultural practices with the world. This large-scale immersive digital mapping project – the first of its kind – will be launched at Tarnanthi Art Fair and features interviews with more than 150 First Nations artists and arts workers.
IAS Fine Art Logistics is partnering with AGSA for the 2023 Tarnanthi Art Fair as the transport and logistics partner for the Art Fair, IAS will collect from art centres across Australia from as far as South Hedland in WA, Darwin in the NT, Cairns in QLD and Ceduna in SA. In the lead-up to the Art Fair, IAS will be working with the art centres for artwork delivery, installation, and technical assistance. For the duration of the Tarnanthi Air Fair, IAS will be onsite to assist buyers and collectors with packing and transport, to move new acquisitions safely to their new homes.
Tara Callaghan, IAS State Manager SA & NT, says, ‘IAS has a long history of managing logistics and transport for art fairs around the country. We are excited to be working with the AGSA Tarnanthi team, all of the art centres and artists to help make this fair happen here on Kaurna Country, Adelaide.’
The Tarnanthi Art Fair runs online from 5pm Friday 20 October – 5pm Sunday 22 October 2023. To access the online Tarnanthi Art Fair and learn more about this year’s participating art centres, visit agsa.sa.gov.au/tarnanthiartfair
Tarnanthi Art Fair is presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia with Principal Partner BHP and supported through the Australian Government’s RISE Fund and the Australian Government’s Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program.
For full program details, visit agsa.sa.gov.au