Sharing the National Collection: First loan to Northern Territory celebrates First Nations art on Country

Four works by Albert Namatjira will go on display at the Araluen Art Centre in Alice Springs to commemorate its 40th anniversary as part of the Albanese Labor Government’s Sharing the National Collection program.

The works by Namatjira – one of Australia’s most famous and sought after painters – will be exhibited alongside works by five foundational central Australian artists of the 1970s.

The loan is the first to the Northern Territory under Sharing the National Collection and the largest loan of First Nations works to date. 

The four Namatjira works, which will be on loan for two years from June 2024, are:

The other five works are:

Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, said it was wonderful to see these culturally significant works exhibited on Country.

“At any point in time 98 per cent of the National Gallery’s collection is in storage.

“When we introduced Revive – our national cultural policy – we made a decision to get those artworks out of dark storage rooms in Canberra and shared with galleries all around the country.

“What better way to honour the 40th anniversary of the Araluen Arts Centre than to share some of the most significant First Nations works that we hold at the National Gallery.

“These works came from Country, they speak to Country and now they’re returning to Country.”

Member for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour, said it was exciting to see works from these artists return to Central Australia.

“The Territory has produced an extraordinary number of internationally renowned artists, whose works have captured the essence of our Country and culture.”

“To have a collection of these works come back home is a great opportunity for Territorians to see and enjoy the original work.”

“Art gives our people an opportunity to express their individual creativity, the love of Country, and the pride and strength in culture.”

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Senator for the Northern Territory, Malarndirri McCarthy, said this was about sharing stories.

“I am so proud of see the extraordinary works of Central Australian artists go on display at Araluen. 

“This is an opportunity for Australians of all ages to fully appreciate the ancient stories of the artists of the Desert Country. 

“I encourage locals and visitors to view the collection of works.”

Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Australia, Adam Lindsay, said this loan followed a long history of bringing touring exhibitions to the region. 

“The National Gallery has been partnering with Araluen Art Centre since 1988 to bring touring exhibitions to Alice Springs. 

“It is with great excitement that the Sharing the National Collection initiative has provided a special opportunity to celebrate their 40th anniversary with them, and share these works by First Nations artists from the region with the community for the next two years.”

Araluen Arts Centre Director, Felicity Green, welcomed the loan. 

“The Araluen Arts Centre is delighted to be loaning significant artworks from the National Gallery of Australia through the Sharing the National Collection program, to be exhibited as part of our 40th anniversary exhibition.

“These artworks, including key works by Albert Namatjira, have particular relevance to central Australia and our audiences will have the opportunity to experience them within the region that inspired them, and alongside artworks from the Araluen Art Collection.”  

Sharing the National Collection is part of Revive, Australia’s national cultural policy, with $11.8m over four years to fund the costs of transporting, installing and insuring works in the national art collection so that they can be seen across the country for extended periods.

Regional and suburban galleries can register their expressions of interest via this link.