Aboriginal Art Goes to the Gulf

In the National, Alana Rosenbaum discusses the passion fot Aboriginal art among the Gulf States buyers and the French:

The strongest markets are in Europe, especially, France, which is home to a significant public collection of Aboriginal art at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. Major private collections include Thomas Vroom’s in Amsterdam. And in the US, there’s the Kluge-Ruhe collection, at the University of Virginia, and John and Barbara Wilkerson’s collection in New York.

But her focus is a remote station in the outback:

[Samuel] Namunjdja usually shows up at Maningrida Arts and Culture without warning to drop off new pieces and pick up his cheques. Sometimes he visits every few weeks; during ceremonial periods, he stays away for months at a time. Maningrida is home to about 3,000 people but has yet to be classified as a town. The community’s centre, nestling between the eastern bank of the Liverpool River and the coast of the Arafura Sea, consists of a series of brick and corrugated-iron buildings on nameless streets. There’s no bank, no restaurant, no cinema and no taxi or bus service. Yet the gallery, Maningrida Arts and Culture, is of national renown and crammed with the most extraordinary collection of Aboriginal artefacts: three-metre logs painted and hollowed out as coffins, woven baskets for catching fish, and didgeridoos adorned with ochre designs. An air-conditioned storeroom off the main gallery contains rows of steel drawers, where the precious bark paintings are laid out.

Soul of the Outback (The National)