The Northern Territory is a place steeped in culture. Our population of indigenous peoples exceeds any other state or territory in Australia, and gives Territorians a much stronger connection to our land and spiritual and cultural heritage.
One way of getting a deeper understanding of Aboriginal life and custom is to visit an Aboriginal art gallery. You can admire art works created by Aboriginal artists from across the Territory, and marvel at the intricate designs and rich colours of the paintings, which are associated with specific areas and groups. And you can share in the enchanting stories and aspects of Aboriginal culture and custom portrayed through the paintings.
Every year we welcome thousands of visitors who want to take a little piece of this beauty home with them by purchasing their own Aboriginal art work. Aside from giving you a unique souvenir of the Territory, buying Aboriginal art is a great way of actually supporting the NT community. When you buy genuine Aboriginal art, the artist not only receives recognition, but also payment for their work. So you get an original piece of Aboriginal art and the artist gets paid – win win!
But where can you go to buy authentic Aboriginal art?
What about at the souvenir shops?
No, absolutely, definitely not. No matter how authentic or genuine the pictures may look – they’re not. They’re likely to be mass-produced prints that do not support the artists in any way.
We know that this is a trap that a lot of our visitors fall in to, so we have chosen three galleries where we know you will get a genuine piece of Aboriginal art for you holiday dollars.
Mbantua Fine Art Gallery and Cultural Museum
2/30 The Mall, Smith Street, Darwin
6 minute walk from Palm City Resort.
Mbantua Fine Art Gallery specialises in art works from the Utopia Region in Central Australia, an Aboriginal homeland close to the Sandover River. This area boasts some of Australia’s most successful Aboriginal artists, including Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Gloria Petyarre, and Agnes Jones.
The art features a mixture of bright colours and intricate pattern-work, which is visually captivating. There is also a range of fabulous sculptures available that represent different human and animal figures connected to the Utopia region.
Paintings are available in a range of sizes from small to extra-large and all artworks come with a profile of the artist. For all original artworks sold at the gallery, a certificate of authenticity is provided that includes details such as the artist’s name, language, country, date of creation and story of the artwork. That’s how you know you are buying a genuine Aboriginal artwork. And don’t worry if you buy something a little too big for your suitcase; there’s free shipping worldwide for unstretched paintings.
Kakadu Highway, Jabiru
2 hour, 40 minute drive from Palm City Resort
Ok, so you can’t stroll down the street for this one, but we figured that everyone who visits Darwin will take a trip out to Kakadu.
The Marrawuddi gallery is owned and run by the Mirarr clan, who are the traditional owners of parts of Kakadu, Western Arnhem Land, and the town of Jabiru. The gallery sells a range of original art works that were created by Aboriginal artists who live in or around Kakadu National Park. These art works are purchased by the gallery, providing the artist with income, and profits from gallery sales are used to fund local initiatives.
The Aboriginal art work available celebrates the life in the Kakadu area, and utilises traditional brown, ochre and red colour schemes. Paintings depict animal and spirit icons, as well as significant Aboriginal customs.
Aside from paintings, the Marrawuddi Gallery has a range of sculptures, jewellery, carvings, and weavings available for sale.
Mimi Aboriginal Art and Craft
6 Pearce Street, Katherine
3 hours, 10 minutes from Palm City Resort
The region of Katherine is the traditional home of the Dagoman, Jawoyn, and Wardaman people, and spans the area from the Tanami Desert in the West Kimberley all the way to Kakadu. The Mimi Art Gallery gathers art work from this huge area, which gives you a vast range to choose from.
The gallery comprises two distinct sub-galleries that separate art works on the basis of region. You can choose from the vibrant paintings of the Tanami Desert, or the traditional ochre and brown paintings of Arnhem Land.
The Mimi Art Gallery is a not-for-profit organisation, so the majority of profits are returned to the artists. There are often artists painting at the gallery, and visitors can watch or ask questions about the art as it is being created.
The Mimi Art Gallery only source authentic Aboriginal artwork, and that the artists are paid fairly for their work. Every artwork sold comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, as well a biography of the artist.
Even if you’re not an art-lover, a visit to an Aboriginal art gallery can give you an insight into the complex and spiritual connection that Aboriginal people have with the land. If you are planning to purchase some art while you visit the Territory, it is vital that you only purchase authentic artwork, so as to ensure the sustainability of the Aboriginal art industry.