Aboriginal art is one of Australia’s most iconic exports, with galleries across the world showcasing the best work of both well-known and emerging artists. However, we aim to go further than simply displaying the pieces created across Australia and therefore forging strong links with Aboriginal communities is very important to us – our work in the Utopia region is only one testament to our determination in educating international art lovers about Aboriginal culture.
As a result, we welcome visitors from around the world to our various sites and encourage them to ask any and every question that springs to mind. By learning the background of the pieces in our galleries and learning a little more about the artists that created them, buyers do not only gain a beautiful addition to their collection but also an insight into an ancient and unique people.
Dale Jennings visiting with an artist in her homeland in Utopia,Central Australia.
Our Locations and Recommendations
Our galleries are located in Alice Springs, Darwin and Mornington and as such are well-placed to introduce visitors to the nuances of Aboriginal heritage. The community of Yuendumu is a surprisingly thriving locale despite its relative isolation, and is definitely worth the 350 kilometre drive from Alice. A prime example of a population banding together to overcome issues which threaten the well-being of all residents, anyone wishing for a truly eye-opening experience should stop by the Mt Theo Project to see just how resilient people can be.
Darwin, meanwhile, has a multitude of experiences for newcomers to the Indigenous experience. We highly recommend a trip to see the Ubirr art site, as each traditional rock painting tells a story of a thousand words much more effectively than any single person ever could. As well as being a deeply spiritual experience, Ubirr demonstrates the longevity of the Aboriginal people and gives a unique understanding of the Mimi spirits.
Finally, the Mornington Peninsula promises unspoiled examples of scar trees and stone tool sites which are certainly not to be missed for anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of the traditional Aboriginal way of life.
Ubirr Art site is in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory.
Australia is one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists, as there really is something for everyone here. Cities such as Melbourne and Sydney are key tourism points for young backpackers and are geared towards the working holiday while those keen to really get back to nature gravitate towards bush communities and the Great Barrier Reef islands off the coast of Townsville.
If you wish to expand your artistic horizons whilst on vacation, nothing really beats a hands-on experience. Our Darwin gallery receives a large number of cruisers who stop by when calling in to the port, so if this appeals to you considering an art cruise may be the perfect way of combining viewing and creating. Many of these trips draw on the knowledge and techniques shared by Indigenous people and so could allow the horizons of your work to expand beyond belief. Learning how to create Aboriginal art is a valuable and exciting experience, so by utilising the tools at your disposal and truly dedicating a part of your trip to this medium will be a life skill that you can treasure forever.
Advice for Travelers
If you wish to visit an Aboriginal heritage site or engage with an Indigenous culture, you will find that Aborigines are some of the most welcoming and friendly people in the world – their respect for the earth and eagerness to impart knowledge really does know no bounds. However, like any culture, all they ask is that visitors respect their way of life and the members of their community.
Elders play a vital part in Aboriginal communities, although the exact definition of an Elder differs by culture. Simply assuming that age indicates an Elder is wrong, as this title is gained by earning the respect of their community. In general, Elders are the spiritual leaders of the community and attempt to encourage others to live in the true Aboriginal way through leading by example.
Should you meet an Elder during your travels, speaking respectfully and addressing them by their proper title at all times will allow you to plant the seeds of friendship. Always ask permission before recording or photographing any ceremonial events you are invited to witness, and above all listen to what they have to say – they are highly respected by their communities and as such can be a valuable source in your quest for knowledge.
Aborigines are a fascinating people and can enrich the lives of those they welcome into their communities by sharing their stories and shedding light on ancient views on spirituality. By looking, learning and experiencing their way of life, any piece of art from Mbantua Gallery instantly gains a multitude of dimensions in the eye of the beholder.
Lindsay Bird, pictured with his family, is a well known and respected Aboriginal Elder from Utopia.