Presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia and showcasing works from First Nations artists across the country, Tarnanthi returns in October this year and will encompass a major exhibition at the AGSA as well as events across almost 30 partner venues.

It also includes the popular Tarnanthi Art Fair, which will be held from October 15-17 in a new location at the Torrens Parade Ground.

To coincide with NAIDOC Week, the gallery today announced several artists who will feature in its 2021 exhibition, including Siddon, who works out of Mangkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing, WA – described as one of Australia’s most experimental arts centres.

He uses an “ironic combination” of Australian stories and ancestral creation narratives to deliver critical commentaries on environmental, social and political issues.

Alec Baker, the most senior artist at Iwantja Arts in the the APY Lands, will show 16 richly coloured works in Tarnanthi called Ngura, which means Country, campsite, a place of meaning and belonging.

“Sometimes I’m thinking about the colours, sometimes I’m just thinking from my memory [of] all the country I’ve been at, all the stories I have,” says Baker, who is aged almost 90 and  has spent a lifetime on the land, including many years working as a stockman.

Alec Baker, Indulkana, SA; image courtesy the artist and Iwantja Arts. Photo: Meg Hansen

Also featuring in the 2021 festival will be Gija sisters Kathy Ramsay and Tracey Ramsay, who come from a family of significant artists from a tiny community in Juwurlinji or Bow River in Western Australia’s East Kimberley. They have created a series of works predominantly using ochre that describe their ownership of their Country

Tarnanthi artistic director Nici Cumpston says the artists presented in Tarnanthi are testament to the rich diversity of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art: “We are eager to share these important stories, and this calibre of art, with our growing audiences across Australia and beyond.”

Tarnanthi has presented the work of around 4500 First Nations artists since the first festival was held in 2015.

Kathy Ramsay, Gija people, WA, Dick’s Yard, 2021, Warmun, WA, natural ochre and pigments on canvas, 180.0 x 120.0cm; courtesy the artist and Warmun Art Centre. © Kathy Ramsey/Warmun Art Centre

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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.