After successfully pivoting online when needed, the headlining Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair will once again indulge in the art of sharing – stories, inspirations, knowledge, trust and beauty – when it launches on Larrakia Country this August.
The true beauty of any art piece is in the sensory responses it invokes; the immediate gratification of seeing something wondrous; the enhanced appreciation of hearing about the creative journey imparted by the artist; the thrill of forming a tactile relationship with an artwork at close quarters; and the memories that become permanently attached to a piece when all of these facets converge. It is exactly these elements – and so many more – that make the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) such a stand-out event.
Cassandra Trevilyan Hayes, Mimi Aboriginal Art Craft. (Image: Dylan Buckee)
Taking place annually on Larrakia Country, the fair has become a true celebration of First Nations art and culture, a vivid, joyous coming together of artists, art lovers, performers, designers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Centres. With a buzzing marketplace where buyers have access to artists and Art Centres (and where 100 per cent of the money from the sale of artworks goes directly to the artists and their communities), a week-long cultural program of artist talks, masterclasses and the National Indigenous Fashion Awards and Country to Couture catwalk event showcasing unique fashion collections from First Nations designers and artists, as well as song and dance and food and fun, DAAF is about interaction and generosity.
Arpaka Dancers from Thursday Island Queensland (Image: Dylan Buckee)
Having seamlessly pivoted to a digital format in 2020 and 2021, DAAF will make a triumphant return to its intimate face-to-face experience at the Darwin Convention Centre this August, allowing artists and art lovers to benefit from once again being present and in the moment, exchanging knowledge and forging relationships beyond that of just a buyer and a seller.
Emerging painter Sheena Dodd with her paintings Tjulpu, which means ‘birds’. (Image: Meg Hansen, Mimili Maku Arts)
While the measure of the fair’s success is in its ability to introduce a new, inquisitive and appreciative audience to the beauty and drama of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, whether they be Australians who have made the (road trip) journey to Darwin or international art lovers logging on from outposts far and wide (given its huge success, there will continue to be an online presence at this year’s fair), it also fosters an increased recognition and understanding of Indigenous art, elevating and celebrating ancient art forms passed down through millennia. This in turn creates lasting economic benefits for First Nations artists and communities into the future.
Puna Yanima with one of her baskets for Tjanpi Desert Weavers and her painting Antara (2022). (Image: Tim Coad; Mimili Maku Arts)
Perhaps then the ultimate sense to be heightened by attending the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair is that of gratitude, at the chance to interact with masters of their practice, to experience something totally unique to our shared country, to contribute to positive and beneficial outcomes, and to 65,000 years of stories and histories being shared so unconditionally.
For more information on all the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair has to offer, visit daaf.com.au.