6 June - 20 July 2024

Australian Design Centre, in collaboration with the National Indigenous Art Fair, proudly presents Vessels: Transcending Tradition, a celebration of the rich tapestry of Indigenous object-based artistry.

This exhibition, curated by ADC First Nations Programs Coordinator Miah Madden, honours the vibrant and profound creative practices of some of the most respected Indigenous Art Centres across Australia.

Art Centres: Barkly Regional Arts, Bula’bula Arts, Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts, Injalak Arts, Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association.

Vessels unveils a curated collection of exceptional artworks that are inherently imbued with deep cultural significance and stories. The featured Artists are custodians of their respective cultural heritages, each expressing a unique artistic language that bridges revered traditions and modern-day realities. From the intricate carvings of Gapuwiyak Arts to the ‘Bush Handbags’ of Barkly Arts, the exhibition celebrates a wide array of mediums and techniques, each artwork narrating the distinctive voice of its creator. The artworks transcend traditional ideals of Indigenous art, celebrating the spiritual, material, and ecological wisdom that has been passed down through generations of the artists’ lineage.

Not merely object-based artworks, they are vessels of history, knowledge, and identity, offering an intimate glimpse into the profound relationship between the artists and their ancestral lands. These Art Centres are participants in the National Indigenous Art Fair, to be held at the Overseas Passenger Terminal from 29 – 30 June 2024.

Information for buyers

The works in this exhibition are available for purchase. If you are interested please contact the Centre on 02 93614555 or enquire at the desk. Please view the price list here.

Barkly Regional Arts

Barkly Regional Arts represents over 50 Aboriginal artists living in the five remote communities across the Barkly region with the focus of fostering, developing, and recognising local artists. The Artists of Barkly employ contemporary mediums to celebrate and preserve ancient cultures and languages, reflecting each artist’s innate cultural diversity.

In Vessels, Barkly Regional Arts is celebrating the works of Joylene Epenarra, Jessie Beasley, Aileen Long, and Triscilla Peterson by showcasing their ‘Bush Handbags’, painted and crushed metal buckets.

Bula’bula Arts

Located in the heart of the Raminging community of Central Arnhem Land, Bula’bula Arts has been supporting local artists for over 30 years, currently representing approximately 150 artist members. The name “Bula’bula” means the voice/tongue of the Gandayala, the red kangaroo and Ramingining’s Creation Being, symbolising the journey and song cycle that is central to the region’s heritage. This narrative is vividly depicted across various mediums, including fibre art, paintings, sculpture, and more. Janice Djupuduwuy is an emerging fibre artist, represented by Bula’bula, known for her distinctive contemporary pieces. Janice is the daughter of the late prolific fibre artist Robyn Djunginy who was internationally renowned for her pandanus bottles, woven using local twining techniques. Robyn has been the only artist from the Ramingining region to produce and paint bottles, only passing on the bottle story to her daughters. Janice keeps her mother’s legacy and memory alive by using her weaving techniques to create bottles of her own.

Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts

Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts is a remote Art Centre in East Arnhem Land, owned by Yolngu members, supporting over 100 artists from Gapuwiyak and surrounding homelands. Gapuwiyak is a small Yolngu town in Miyarraka, home to 18 clans each with their own interconnected clan estates, songs, patterns and designs. Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts assists artists to collect and prepare materials, make high-quality art, explore ideas, develop knowledge and skills, exhibit, market and sell their work.

For Vessels, Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts is showcasing the intricate carvings of several artists: ‘Djirrma\a (Echidna)’ by Peter (Justin) Guyula, ‘Watarra, Baypinga (Saratoga)’ by Frank Mununggurr, and ‘Camp dog’ by Sebastian Buntarrawuy Wunungmurra.

Injalak Arts

Based in Gunbalanya, West Arnhem Land, Injalak Arts has been a centre for art, craft and community since its opening in 1989. Injalak Arts has over 200 active members including artists, weavers, and craftspeople from Gunbalanya and surrounding homelands. At the core of West Arnhem Land, two million hectares of sandstone escarpment stretches across the Northern Territory and is considered to be some of the most salient and valuable areas of rock art in the world. The immeasurable depths of history in Country continues to live through Injalak Art’s artists as they create works informed by the layered paintings of thousands of years ago.

In Vessels, Injalak Arts showcases Agnes Nalunjdjuk’s ‘Sister Basket’, a woven bag made from natural material sourced from the Gunbalanya area. Pandanus handbags are a form shared with southern Aboriginal weavers, who call them ‘Sister Baskets’ due to their two identical sides. Injalak is also showcasing ‘Djenj’ by Adrienne Watson, an emerging weaver from Gunbalanya who has learnt from her family members to pass on Djung (dreaming) and culture whilst pushing the limits of traditional weaving with sculptural-like forms.

Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association

Established in 1989, Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association is owned and governed by Tiwi Artists from the Milikapiti community on Melville Island. The Tiwi Islands are north of Darwin and have been home to Tiwi people since parlingarri (a long time ago). The Milikapiti community is on the coast overlooking the Arafura Sea, and is considered to be a happy place, with strong families and strong culture. Jilamara artists are supported to build careers as internationally renowned artists through workshops, training, support and representation. They produce contemporary works based on ceremonial body painting designs, clan totems and Tiwi creation stories.

In Vessels, Jilamara Arts is showcasing bird carvings including: ‘Tjurukukuni (Owl)’ by Walter Brooks and ‘Tokwampini, bird’ by Pias Tipungwuti. The Tjurukukuni (the owl) acted as a messenger for the Tiwi lovers Wai-pa and Taparra, guiding them to one another through the bush whilst the Tokwampini was the messenger in the pukumani mythology and was the catalyst for the morality of Tiwi people.

Free Exhibition Tours

Make the most of your trip to the Australian Design Centre with a free exhibition tour. The gallery team will introduce you to the current exhibitions and Object Shop.

Tour times:
Thursdays, 12.30pm
Book here or call on us on 9361 4555 to make a booking or register at the front desk 10 minutes prior to tour time. 

Image top: Aileen Long, Wakanji (Bush Tomato), 2023. Photo: Courtesy of Barkly Arts.