Tarnanthi Art Fair 2020
In Kaurna language, tarnanthi means “the first emergence of light at the beginning of day, or the first start to the seed sprouting”. Tarnanthi, Adelaide’s annual contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art festival, aims to capture that sentiment.
“For us it’s about new beginnings, providing new opportunities for artists,” Nici Cumpston, artistic director of Tarnanthi and curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts at the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) told Broadsheet.
The festival’s popular art fair returns this year – from December 4 to 6 – joining its major focus exhibition Open Hands, which celebrates the ongoing and often unseen work of First Nations women.
This year’s fair will move from Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute to Lot Fourteen, which will become home to the state government's planned Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre. Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, some works of art are available for sale via an online portal on the AGSA website (the works are on sale from November 27 to December 6).
The wide-ranging works for sale – which include paintings, carvings, weavings, jewellery, clothing, textiles and homewares – are selected by community-run art centres from across the country including SA’s Arts Ceduna, APY Art Centre Collective, Ernabella Arts (APY), Ku Arts, Ninuku Arts and Tjunga Palya.
Most of the pieces, by hundreds of established and emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, range between $50 and $5000 and the money goes straight back into communities. “Art production is a vital source of income in remote communities – income that supports economic empowerment and cultural resilience,” says AGSA Director Rhana Devenport.
The Tarnanthi Art Fair supports the Indigenous Art Code and has been developed in partnership with not-for-profit Aboriginal organisation Agency. “Buyers are guaranteed that every dollar from sales goes directly back to artists and their communities,” says Devenport.
While the artists will not be present at the 2020 fair, the three-day event will feature live music and video portraits of artists making work and discussing their motivations and traditions.
“The art fair is an important part of Tarnanthi,” says Cumpston. “Not only is it an opportunity for visitors to learn more about culture and stories that are embedded in works of art from across the country but visitors can take these stories home and be reminded every day of the deep history that our nation holds.”