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June 13, 2019
Culture

APY Art Centre Collective opens Adelaide gallery and studio space

Featuring artist studios and an exhibition space, the Adelaide APY Gallery on Light Square provides Anangu artists multiple platforms to support and hone their artistic careers.

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  • Words and pictures: Angela Skujins

Director of the APY Art Centre Collective and Anangu woman, Leah Brady, says when she is not receiving medical treatment two days a week, you can find her out the back of the APY Gallery Adelaide in Light Square working on her paintings.

“Every morning, eight o’clock, I catch the bus. At nine, working,” says Leah.

“Why we here? We are happy with family, together talking, laughing.

“It’s one community. One language.”

Remarks

APY Gallery
9 Light Square, Adelaide 5000
Mon-Fri: 9am ’til 5pm
Saturday: 10am ’til 4pm

More info

Leah is from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) – located in the remote northwest corner of South Australia.

She moved to Adelaide three years ago to receive medical treatment at the Royal Adelaide Hospital for heart and kidney problems and is one of the many Aboriginal women who work multiple days a week at the new APY Gallery Adelaide in Light Square.

The gallery has been open for three weeks when CityMag visits, and we notice the centre is divided into a studio space and an exhibition space.

The exhibition space, situated at the front of the centre, features wall-to-wall artworks that span paintings, punu (wood) carvings, ceramics, baskets and soft sculptures, works on paper and textiles, and the studio space, at the back of the building, is where Anangu artists work on their art.

The gallery has two rooms as well as two purposes, explains general manager of the APY Art Centre Collective, Skye O’Meara, as she guides CityMag to through to the studio.

Firstly, the exhibition space helps young and emerging Indigenous artists showcase their works in inner-city galleries in new markets, she says.

Secondly, the studio space at the rear of the building allows Anangu artists to make art in Adelaide, which enhances their financial, health and wellbeing outcomes.

“The Art Centre collective started about six years ago on the Lands,” says Skye.

“It was a vision of a group of elders who wanted to create more agency in their marketplace and outcomes for art centres, as they saw art not only as being really important vehicles to keep culture strong, but also for employment.

“As of late there are seven art centres in the APY Lands, and each of the communities have one.

“We see this as the eighth centre of the APY Lands.”

L-R: General manager of the APY Art Centre Collective, Skye O’Meara and director of the APY Art Centre Collective, Leah Brady

 

Skye says the women in the back room are Anangu women who should be on APY Lands working instead, and she says it’s no surprise before the gallery opened many Aboriginal women, like Leah, felt “bored” in Adelaide.

She explains they were busy, respected women with responsibility on the lands, but when they moved to Adelaide they found a lack of infrastructure to help them gather cultural momentum.

“When they’ve come down here they say there isn’t support; there isn’t anything for them to do,” says Skye.

“Mrs Brady is a real cultural woman; her mum and dad were cultural bosses on the APY Lands and she stepped into those roles too.

“That’s why she is the boss here at the centre. Although this is an area that’s been under-supported for a really long time, it’s obvious the need is here.”

Above: One of two murals painted by senior Aboriginal artist Nyunmiti Burton from Amata in the APY Lands, and a group of female artists, for the Muslim community in New Zealand. It is offered as representation of solidarity following the Christchurch terrorist attack in March this year.

 

Artist Jennifer Burton

This need was proved on the first day the gallery opened its doors, Friday, 17 May, when 15 artists turned up to work.

Skye says the artists have been returning in droves ever since, as there is nothing like the APY Gallery Adelaide in South australia.

Jennifer Burton is another Anangu woman who moved to Adelaide three weeks ago to receive dialysis at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Jennifer says she is “really happy at the gallery” as she loves painting, “always,” and comes to the gallery Tuesdays and Thursdays when she’s not being treated.

To finance the studio spaces for Jennifer and Leah to work, the Collective relies on painting sales from within the gallery itself and from the art centres on the APY Lands.

However, Skye isn’t worried about the profitability of the APY Gallery Adelaide – last year Sydney’s new APY Gallery turned over $1 million through sales, fairs, markets and other community events.

Skye also has high hopes for the Adelaide space, which will unveil its first exhibition of artists in about five weeks’ time, and she feels very lucky to be overseeing this new South Australian outpost.

“It will be Mrs Brady’s first show in a while,” says Skye. “It will be terrific.”

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