The world renowned Australian Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery
It's relative proximity to the Torres Strait Islands, Arnhem Land and Central Australia places it strategically at the head of the indigenous art scene in Australia. Its for this same reason that the Telstra National Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Art Award are also held in Darwin each year. The upstairs gallery on the corner of Mitchell and Knuckey st has provided museums, galleries and private collectors from 43 different countries around the globe access to authentic traditional and contemporary Australian indigenous art for over quarter of a century now.
The gallery has been operating for 29 years and paid over $4 millon to indigenous Artists
Visit the gallery in person at the corner of Knuckey and Mitchell St Darwin NT Australia
Inside the Gallery
Artists with their crafts
You will find artists at work
And Lots and Lots of Art
We started promoting the art of the worlds oldest living cultural via the worlds most advanced technology in 1994. It was a thought over a beer on the back verandah. And ultimately what a beer it was.
1994 the internet was new , we believe we were the first Australian aboriginal art site on the world wide web. We have kept the same domain name since inception ,aaia .com.au but our host providers have changed hands on a number of occasions and we made a few technical mistakes when updating the website and our rankings were somehow lost in the mix.
Today's web architecture and SEO techniques are a lot more sophisticated and we are now playing catch up.
The interest that was generated by our early web sites lead us to eventually opening a physical walk in off the street gallery in 1996. It was and still is on the corner of Mitchell and Knuckey St. in Darwin Northern Territory of Australia. The gallery has never received any government funding, however, being part aboriginal owned and with aboriginal family connections we have managed to survive for 24 years now.
Its somewhat a symbiotic relationship between us, the aboriginal artists and families we support and the art industry itself. We need each other and together we continue on in support of each other.
When the gallery first opened in 1996 we laid rich red earth carpet throughout the gallery . The colour of the carpet is fading and wearing thin but our passion and enthusiasm continues as strong as ever.
Over a quarter of a century, we have seen great artists pass, and surprisingly enough even in todays world, one or another of the children takes on the stories, and continues the art and the craft of an ancient timeline .
That Old Lady.... Dorothy Bennett
Many of the young and old through out the aboriginal communities of Anhemland ( the North Eastern Part of the Northern Territory of Australia ), have memories of Dorthy Bennett... often affectionately referred to, just as, "that old lady"
"That old lady she knows,.... she knows our stories ...she knows this art"
The following is a cut an paste quote from the NT Government Terrtiory Stories website https://www.territorystories.nt.gov.au/handle/10070/227639
Dorothy a Sydney housewife married to Alfred John Bennett , they had two children a daughter and son. She came to the Northern Territory as a medical secretary with a team lead by Sydney surgeon Dr Stuart Scougall, studying orthopaedic problems in Central Australia and Arnhem Land. In her spare time Dorothy sought samples of Aboriginal art for the New South Wales Art Gallery. In 1959, Qantas asked Dorothy and Dr Scougall to gather a small Aboriginal art collection to tour Japan. Request from the ceremonial leader of the Riratjingu people to come back and help the artist sell their work. Dorothy the art hunter would take a rifle, extra fuel and plenty of water when she ventured on collecting and buying paintings expeditions, travelling over rough bush tracks and through deep rivers for up to eight months each year then returning to exhibit the works in cities.
That picture to the right is Dorothy with a young looking Ivan Namarrikki and one of his amazing traditional rarrk bark paintings .
Who was Dorothy
Dorothy collected not for her own profit the emphasis of her work was always on helping artists to exhibit and sell their work themselves, locally and overseas. Dorothy worked with gallery operator Shirley Collins organising exhibitions in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1972 she became consultant to the Aboriginal Arts Board. She became a field officer and adviser for Aboriginal Arts and Crafts Company in 1973.
Since 1986 Dorothy has worked independently among artists, recording their mythologies and collecting their works. She is an authorised consultant and was a member of the North Australia Research Unit attached to the Australian National University and is a federally appointed NT art valuer.
Dorothy later had her own office in our gallery when it opened 1996, until the time of her death.
At the time of the gallery opening Dorothy was one of only three federally authorised Aboriginal art valuers in Australia.
Dorothy had recorded many many of the traditional stories attached to artworks passed on from the elders to the younger custodians. It was extraordinary to see artist come into the gallery to ask Dorothy to recount the stories associated with particular artworks. As told to her by their forefathers. Extraordinary and fascinating to witness.
Dorothy and Philip, from the Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery of Darwin, went on many art discovery and collection trips into Arnhem Land.
Aboriginal artists trusted and respected Dorothy and ultimately associated Dorothy with the gallery in Darwin. To this day the gallery continues enjoy that same trust and respect.
The City Art Support Center
For many artist coming into Darwin from outstations and outback communities the gallery is somewhat of a one stop support center for everything.
If you spend around an hour at the gallery you WILL MEET artists, who regularly come in on a daily basis. If artists are visiting Darwin for a while they will inevitably bring some of their arts and crafts into the gallery.
We have a personal association with the families of many of the artists we support. Unlike most other commercial outlets we often pay artists and their families advance payments in support of their needs.
And all payments for artworks are paid in full directly to the artists on receipt of their works
In fact we have channeled around $4million to aboriginal artists and their families since we opened the gallery.
Artist Janet Long Nakamarra talks to school children about aboriginal art in the gallery
Famous yidaki man Djalu show visitors to the gallery how to play the didgeridoo .
Great Affordable Art Deals Every Week
If you have visited the gallery before you will have noticed the table of small paintings in the middle of the main gallery room. Its the discount bargain table that has an amazing collection of around 300 paintings 50 x 50 cm or smaller. Prices from $60. Its really really worth looking through.