• Albert Namatjira's last painting......Alambaura (Haasts Bluff) 1959

    Albert Namatjira's last painting......Alambaura (Haasts Bluff) 1959

  • Margo Neale and Ian McLean

    Margo Neale and Ian McLean

  • The centrepiece of the exhibition is a ground painting by Papunya women of three Dreamtime stories.

    The centrepiece of the exhibition is a ground painting by Papunya women of three Dreamtime stories.

  • Adriane Boag and Director of the Bega Valley Regional Gallery Iain Dawson

    Adriane Boag and Director of the Bega Valley Regional Gallery Iain Dawson

  • Amar Singh, Annick Thomassin, Kirilly Jordan and Maino Mosby

    Amar Singh, Annick Thomassin, Kirilly Jordan and Maino Mosby

  • Ros Jackson, Dinah Kadmos and Susan Chesswell

    Ros Jackson, Dinah Kadmos and Susan Chesswell

  • John Jackson, Dereck Rooken-Smith and Anna Clancy

    John Jackson, Dereck Rooken-Smith and Anna Clancy

  • Drill Hall Gallery Director Terence Maloon with curator of the Streets of Papunya Vivien Johnson

    Drill Hall Gallery Director Terence Maloon with curator of the Streets of Papunya Vivien Johnson

  • Philip Wiffen and Mary O'Sullivan

    Philip Wiffen and Mary O'Sullivan

  • Mary Eagle, Judy Forsyth and Joy Spencer

    Mary Eagle, Judy Forsyth and Joy Spencer

  • Tom Eccles, Jane Steinhaeuser and Sue (aka) Kath Ward

    Tom Eccles, Jane Steinhaeuser and Sue (aka) Kath Ward

  • Roger Haussmann and Joseph Siew

    Roger Haussmann and Joseph Siew

  • Papunya artists Nellie Nangala and Tilau Nangala

    Papunya artists Nellie Nangala and Tilau Nangala

Drill Hall Gallery: Streets of Papunya

14 July 2016

The refurbished Drill Hall Gallery doesn’t look very different but a substantial sum of money was required to make it a first class gallery. It was of course once for the pounding of military feet as soldiers trained for the Second World War but in 1984 it was remodelled to become an art gallery. It had its moments in the spotlight as an exhibition space for the National Gallery of Australia’s collection waiting in sheds in Fyshwick to move into that space but when the ANU took it over and particularly under the Directorship of Nancy Sever many a fine glass of wine and hunks of cheese were consumed by regulars at so many openings. When did they fill one gallery with stones for a disconcerting walk in heels and an unexpected tectonic shift in stance?

Well it’s sparkling now and currently exhibiting Streets of Papunya curated by Professor Vivien Johnson combining current works from that treasure trove of art alongside the revered pioneers of Papunya.

It is quite beautiful, especially the centrepiece, a ground painting by Papunya women featuring three Dreaming stories that appears to have been lifted from its original place at the opening of the Tandanya cultural centre in 1990 as you would an archeological discovery. Two of Papunya’s senior law women, Nellie Nagala and Tilau Nangala, came for the opening, well rugged up for the Canberra cold. Papunya now boasts in this era of Papunya art, a majority of women artists.

There are many familiar names among the works, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri most familiar but it’s the Albert Namatjira,  Alambaura ( Haasts Bluff) painted in 1959 just days before he died that reminds us of his brilliance and the long slow acceptance of aboriginal art as a great Australian treasure.

To open this officially it was necessary to go across the road to the foyer of an ANU school for the speeches because eating and drinking was not allowed in the exhibition. But the wait was worth it. Make time to visit Streets of Papunya. It continues until 14 August