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Presenting Tarnanthi 2017


Presenting Tarnanthi 2017

Laura Brain

Australia’s rich and diverse Indigenous culture is about to be celebrated at an extraordinary scale, courtesy of Tarnanthi this October at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Tarnanthi is the platform for stories from all across the country to be seen and heard in this exceptional display of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

Tarnanthi (pronounced tar-nan-dee) is a Kaurna word from the traditional owners of the Adelaide plains, meaning to come forth or appear – like the sun and the first emergence of light, or a seed sprouting. For many cultures, first light signifies new beginnings. The festival’s vision is therefore to encourage new beginnings by providing artists with opportunities to create significant new work.

After the success of Tarnanthi in 2015, the Government of South Australia and BHP Billiton are ensuring that this vital city-wide celebration of Indigenous Australian culture sticks around for another five years, until 2021. In 2015, Tarnanthi showcased over one thousand artists across the Art Gallery of South Australia, twenty-two partner exhibitions and an Art Fair featuring twenty art centres across Australia, including independent artists from South Australia. The attendance at Tarnanthi exhibition and events in 2015 exceeded 300,000. 

A few of the legendary artists that featured at the 2015 included Warwick Thornton, film-maker from Alice Springs, who presented his piece titled ‘The way of the Ngangkari.’ His piece was a compilation of video and still photographs depicting Ngangkari (bush doctors) being similar to the Jedi in Star Wars. After having an epiphany watching Star Wars as a 12 year old, Thornton followed this through to his work later in life; you might’ve heard of Warwick Thornton from his debut feature film: ‘Samson and Delilah.’ Another legendary artist that featured in 2015 was Dinni Kunoth Petyarre and Josie Kunoth Petyarre, residents of Utopia in Central Australia, with their artworks exploring the world of bush footy through painted hand carvings of figures representing 16 AFL teams.

This year’s Tarnanthi line up is yet to be announced, but you can stay up to date with their website here and Facebook page here.

What: Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art 

Where: The Art Gallery of South Australia (and other locations across Adelaide)

When: 13th October 2017- 28th January 2018 


Header via Tarnanthi Facebook page