The annual Walpiri Art Market convened by AIATSIS for the art from Yuendumu and Lajamanu communities in the Northern Territory was taken outside to a marquee on the grass between their building and the National Museum of Australia this year where if you wander you’ll come across the Matthew Harding Bogong moths sculptures tucked into the ground.
I love the bogongs, and know how to cook them, and do wonder where they’ve all gone, with a thought that the powers that be on the hill found a way to get rid of them when the pollies couldn’t cope with their migratory influx to cooler climes. Bogong moths were part of aboriginal diets for centuries with all their juicy fat providing sustenance on these plains, those feasts were legendary but today they’re a sculpture of memories. It was fitting to sit on them and chat to three of the artists whose work is featured among 600 works on sale in Canberra for the Art Market which in dollars and cents terms brings them vital cash flow for their community needs.
The art is colourful and collectable. The stories hidden in symbols and styles has evolved over many years to suit a market that is far from their community and rather than waiting for the tourists and grey nomads to come to them they’ve rolled the canvases, packed up the artefacts and brought them to a wider market.
Last year inside at AIATSIS it was a great success so expanding on that a move outside opened up better display opportunities and advertising brought in pre-market sales that made the artists very happy. And the people who came wasn’t too surprising with local diplomats in force to find special pieces to take home and for Ambassador Noel White an idea that perhaps a very big canvas for his embassy would be a good idea.