Northern Territory Government Newsroom

National Aboriginal Art Gallery: National Reference Group Co-Chairs Announced

Minister for Tourism and Culture, Lauren Moss today announced the Co-Chairs of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery National Reference Group.

Built in the heart of Australia, the National Aboriginal Art Gallery will become a globally significant institution that celebrates Aboriginal art and culture and create jobs and economic opportunities. 

Confirmed at the inaugural national reference group meeting held today in Alice Springs, renowned art and cultural leaders Ms Franchesca Cubillo, Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia and Dr Gerard Vaughan, AM, former Director of the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) have been confirmed as co-chairs for the National Reference Group.

The National Reference Group will promote and inform the development of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery and provide advice and recommendations to the NT Government on the Project’s development, establishment and operations, drawing from the experience and expertise of key leaders within the creative industry.

Attached: Co-Chair Biographies.

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Quotes from Minister for Tourism and Culture, Lauren Moss

“I would like to thank both Ms Cubillo and Dr Vaughan for undertaking the important roles of co-chairs for the National Reference Group to progress the National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs.

“The cumulative experience of our National Reference Group is a testament to the importance of this project for Australia and I welcome, acknowledge and thank all members for the insights, experience and support they will provide to the Northern Territory.

“Today has been a milestone day for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, with the inaugural meeting held in Alice Springs.

“The National Aboriginal Art Gallery has so many important roles to play including, revitalising the CBD of Alice Springs, creating employment for Aboriginal people and Alice Springs residents, as well as putting Alice Springs on the national stage as the home for Australia’s first National Aboriginal Art Gallery.

“We’re excited to be getting on with the job of bringing to fruition this game changing project.”

Quotes from Franchesca Cubillo, Co-chair the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, National Reference Group

“I am so very honoured and humbled to be involved as co-Chair of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery National Reference Group and will do my utmost, alongside of my colleagues, to ensure the realisation of this history changing institution. 

“I am also very mindful of those Aboriginal activists, leaders and ambassadors that have gone before in preparing the groundwork for this moment in time and I respectfully acknowledge them and will ensure that their Vision, Legacy and Stories are not forgotten.

“It’s been over a hundred years since the first bark painting was acquired from central Arnhem Land, over 80 years since the first Albert Namatjira watercolour painting emerged from the Lutheran Mission of Hermannsburg and over 40 years since the first western desert paintings by Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri emerged from the Aboriginal community of Papunya and the first silk and cotton batiks by Emily Kame Kngwarreye came to our attention from Utopia cattle station in Central Australia. 

“In addition, tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists have been creating and sharing hundreds of thousands works of art, based on the rich, complex and ancient Dreamings of Country and Ancestors with the broader community since first contact with Europeans in the 1600s. 

“These remarkable works of art sit within collections that are spread across the nation and the globe, and yet there has not been a dedicated National Gallery within Australia whose sole purpose is to celebrate, showcase and exhibited the amazing art of Australia’s First Peoples. 

“The National Aboriginal Art Gallery will address and fulfil this important and well over-due role, it will be based in the heart of this Nation and it will draw as its foundation the remarkable Art Histories of the region. It will have Indigenous governance and agency at the core of its organizational structure, ensuring for the first time in history a dedicated Indigenous Gallery conceptually built according to Indigenous cultural principles, values and philosophies. 

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be at the forefront of this project, guiding, advising and facilitating this history changing moment.”

Quotes from Dr Gerard Vaughan, Co-chair the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, National Reference Group

“We are all committed to building an institution in Alice Springs which can represent, on its own terms the breadth and depth of the contemporary Indigenous (ATSI) art movement in all its forms.

“All Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, take huge pride in the creation from the 1970’s of a new school of art which is global in its recognition and significance, and this binds us together. The new institution will employ many professional Indigenous curators and administrators, who will train new generations, providing a national focal point for Indigenous artists and art-producing communities.

“One of the great benefits of this initiative will be the ability to draw loans from our country’s greatest existing collections of Indigenous art, ranging from the National Gallery of Australia and National Museum of Australia in Canberra to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin, to state galleries and museums and even private collections across the nation and world.

“Drawing on these collections will streamline the process of providing content of the highest quality, and managing costs - at the same time returning masterpieces on loan to the country and communities where they were produced. 

“The National Aboriginal Art Gallery will not only function as a place to see the visual culture of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, but will also serve as a major drawcard for incoming tourism, giving Alice Springs a special national role as a starting point for broader cultural tourism. It will work in tandem with existing Alice Springs cultural venues, such as the Araluen Arts Centre, and the Hermannsburg community, which keep alive the legacy of Albert Namatjira and many other local artists. It will play an important role in generating employment and broad economic benefit.

“I look forward to assisting my colleagues in the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, National Reference Group, the NT Government and local Indigenous communities on the strategic thinking around what the new national institution could be, and its local, regional and national significance.”

Media contact: Trish Grimshaw 0401 119 242

Co-Chair Biographies