Indigenous exhibition forges common ground 


Amy Nuggett, Elsie Thomas, Nora Toogoodja, Ivy Nixon, Dolly Snell and Spider Snell, Untitled 1994, Batchelor Institute Art Collection

An exhibition highlighting the significant role that visual art plays in the cultural life and livelihood of Indigenous Australians will be opened at the Charles Darwin University Art Gallery this month.

“Common Ground” presents, for the first time, a joint exhibition of more than 106 works by North Australian Indigenous artists, chiefly paintings and works on paper, drawn from the permanent art collections of Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and CDU.

CDU Art Collection and Art Gallery curator Anita Angel said works from Batchelor Institute Art Collection dated principally from the early 1990s, when the Artists-in-Residence Program and the Collection were initiated. 

“The exhibition highlights the immediate and continuing success of the Batchelor Institute Artist-in-Residence Program as an outcome of ‘both ways’ education,” Ms Angel said.

“By providing opportunities for Aboriginal people ‘to release their knowledge in a culturally supportive environment’, the Program mediated an awareness and an appreciation of Aboriginal knowledge systems on the part of non-Aboriginal people.”

Ms Angel said the Batchelor Institute works were complemented by more than 50 works from the CDU Art Collection, chiefly limited edition prints, created by the same artists or those from the same regions and communities. 

“The exhibition reveals how a similar pathway, based on collaboration and cultural exchange, collection and preservation, was followed at CDU through the Art Collection and Northern Editions,” she said. 

“Tuition in printmaking has been delivered on campus and to remote and regional Indigenous art centres and communities for 20 years. In supporting this activity, the university fostered the development of contemporary Indigenous printmaking, recognising both the cultural and economic value, and the aesthetic and educational importance of art to Indigenous communities. As beneficiary of workshop proofs of editioned prints, the CDU Art Collection is now the second largest holding of Australian Indigenous prints in the world.” 

“Common Ground” features works by Indigenous artists from Ngukurr, Lajamanu, the Daly River region (including Peppimenarti) and Borroloola in the Northern Territory, as well as Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia.

It will run from Thursday 18 April until Friday 28 June 2013 in the CDU Art Gallery.  For more information visit: