Since the 1960s, art centres have played a pivotal role in the production of indigenous art; painters, weavers and craftspeople gather to create works inspired and informed by the landscape, traditional knowledge and beliefs. As community hubs – places to gather, socialise and work – art centres are often key to remote communities’ everyday functioning. In addition, serving as gatekeepers between buyers and artists, the centres ensure fair treatment and pay for their artists.
A 1989 independent review into Aboriginal Community Arts and Crafts Centres found that funding the centres was an irrefutably effective way to support and subsidise indigenous communities. Healthily functioning art centres create streams of income for individuals that feed back into and nourish communities.
Munupi Arts & Crafts Association is located along Melville Islands north-western coastline at Pirlangimpi (Garden Point) and is the most recently formed art centre on the Tiwi Islands. In 1990 the Yikikini Women’s Centre and Pirlangimpi Pottery were incorporated under the name Munupi Arts and Crafts Association giving local artists an opportunity to proudly celebrate Tiwi culture through both traditional and contemporary mediums.
Drawing inspiration from their natural lush environment and Tiwi creation stories, Munupi artists employ ochres, gouache and acrylic paint. Munupi Arts and Crafts are also highly regarded for the diversity of their range of works including painting, pottery, carving, weaving, screen prints, etchings, linocut prints, lithographs and screen printed textiles.
Injalak is a non-profit, community enter -prise. The Art Centre is located in Gunbalanya and was officially opened in late November 1989. Prior to 1989 its origins it was a small shed used for screen printing.
Injalak Arts has over 200 members made up of artists and weavers from Gunbalanya and surrounding outstations. All artists are paid up front for their work. Although the Arts Centre is located in Gunbalanya, it also attempts to service those artists who choose to live at their outstations who have few other options for economic activity.
Merrepen Arts Centre opened in 1986. Merrepen artists are renowned for their colourful depictions of local flora and fauna in prints, paintings, fabrics and objects. Merrepen Arts has around 20 artists working all year round and increases to around 80 artists during the annual Merrepen Arts and Sports Festival. Merrepen proudly represents some of the most established artists on a national level.
Anindilyakwa Arts & Cultural Centre was established in 2005 and is owned by the Anindilyakwa people of the Groote Eylandt Archipelago. Groote Eylandt is situated in the Gulf of Carpentaria and is the largest island of the Archipelago. The art centre is based on Angurugu community and works with artists across Umbakumba, Bickerton Island & homeland communities.
Anindilyakwa artists continue to carry strong cultural traditions of painting, carving and weaving - adapting traditional practices and embracing contemporary mediums and ideas. Anindilyakwa women hold a strong tradition of dyeing using plant materials to brightly colour pandanus and other fibres for weaving baskets and bags.
Since 2015, through product development with top-end fibre artist Aly De Groot, Anindilyakwa artists have drawn on this foundation to expand their dyeing practice into the arena of contemporary textiles. Rich colours from their country are skillfully embedded within the textiles, homewares and wearables produced. Anindilyakwa Arts Gallery is located in Alyangula, Groote Eylandt.