Art Centres are an integral part of each community

The art centres visited on an Aboriginal Art Connections experience are all aboriginal owned and operated, ensuring that all proceeds from the sale of art works provide a direct benefit to the artists and the communities.

These centres are an integral part of each community, providing the means for local artists to have their work distributed to galleries and collectors world wide. Many are also an artistic hub in the community, with artists sharing ochres, tools and resources, or just coming together socially.

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Warlayirti Artists

Warlayirti Artists is one of Australia’s leading Indigenous art centres whose artists have a reputation for producing uniquely individual and vibrant paintings. Situated on the edge of the Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts in northern Western Australia, Balgo is a small community of around 350 people. Warlayirti Artists, however, represents more than 200 artists across the three communities in the Kutjungka region – Kururrungku (Billiluna), Mulan, and Wirrimanu (Balgo) representing seven main language groups: Kukatja, Walmatjarri, Ngarti, Jaru, Wangkatjunga, Pintupi and Warlpiri. The number of artists, their different histories and the variety of language and cultural groups means that each artist brings uniqueness to the canvas.

Warlayirti Artists is a community-based Aboriginal Corporation incorporated under the new CATSI Act (Corporations- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) 2007. This means that Warlayirti Artists is controlled and managed by a Committee of Aboriginal artists which is elected annually by the members of Warlayirti Artists. Since July 2002 Warlayirti Artists has been totally self-funding for core operational costs. This means that the Art Centre receives no operational funding for the core staff positions of Director, Art Centre Manager, Culture Centre Manager and Development Assistant plus production, administration and travel costs. The indigenous staff employed across the organisation are partly funded by Warlayirti and partly through government subsidy.

How does the Art Centre work?

All Indigenous people living in the Kutjungka region can produce art through Warlayirti Artists. Warlayirti Artists supplies all materials to the artists for the production of their art at no upfront cost to the artists. Warlayirti Artists uses only the best quality professional art materials. Warlayirti Artists staff make fortnightly trips to Mulan and Billiluna to supply materials to artists and collect completed works.

Artists return the completed art work to the Art Centre, the story for the art work is recorded, the art work is catalogued in the Warlayirti Artists database, documentation is produced and the work is then offered for sale through the Art Centre.

Art works are not purchased up front by the Art Centre. Artists receive payment for art works once they are sold. The Art Centre operates two “money mornings” each week on Mondays and Fridays and these are the mornings when artists can check to see if any of their art works have been sold and if so receive their payment.

The Art Centre receives a commission on the sale of each art work which covers the costs of materials and contributes to the operational costs of the Art and Culture Centres, as explained above. The commission received by the Art Centre is 20% for works $300 and less and 40% for works over $300. The majority of the money for which an art work is sold is returned directly to the artist.

What does the Culture Centre do?

The Warlayirti Artists Culture Centre supports the passing on the dreaming stories and contemporary stories from the community through an ongoing video and photography documentation program. Members of the community participate in this program as photographers, videomakers, editors, translators and interviewees. In addition to the documentation program the Culture Centre supports the production of baskets, beading and coolamon making. The Centre also houses significant cultural artifacts for the Kutjungka region.

Sarah D. HiRez  Miriam Baadjo

Featured Art Tour

This year we have designed a comprehensive tour of Arnhem Land, focusing not only on the art centres, but we have also included immersive environmental events. A spectacular time of year, after the wet season has abated, the drier air ensures comfort whilst the land is still lush and green.

The customised trip will give you the opportunity to walk around the community environs and engage with the local residents. In particular you will meet the artists, often the artist’s family and certainly the arts workers. On occasion we havebeen offered spontaneous invitations to visit the artist’s homes and camps, the chance to visit the local school, learn more about medicinal botany, Yolngu law, interpret rock art or do some night fishing. Overall the style and pace of the trip is to give those interested in Top End Indigenous Australian art and culture an opportunity to fulfil their curiosity in a real time way.

Make no mistake; this trip cannot be achieved without the expertise of the Aboriginal Art Connections team with many years of collective experience and enthusiasm for Northern Australia. Wewill provide a comfortable trip and an extraordinary experience.

The service you can expect from the team at Aboriginal Art Connections is exemplary. Please be aware that accessing these remote communities in Arnhem land is restricted, so we make all the applications on your behalf to clear entry, prepare your lodgings, ensure meals are hearty and fulfilling, down to the fragrant fresh coffee for morning and afternoon tea always in a scenic let’s just stop and take it in location.

As your accompanying indigenous art specialist I am on board to facilitate your growing knowledge of the art forms of the region, such the stylistic shifts from eastern to western Arnhem land, to introducing specific artists work to you, and being that calm third party when required to help you make decisions with confidence when on the ground.

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22.5.16  7 Day Tiwi Island and Arnhem Land Tour hosted by Vivien Anderson.  Read more

1.9.16  Cape York Art Centre Tour - This tour is still in development. We will take you to the best art centres Cape York has to offer. This tour will be led by Vivien Anderson.  Read more