This month Sydney will once again be hosting the National Indigenous Art Fair.

It’s one of the largest markets of Aboriginal art in the country and will showcase work from communities across the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.

The ethical two-day market will see twenty-six remote, community-owned art centres gather at The Rocks to offer buyers the opportunity to purchase art directly from the artist.

Artwork from Bábbarra Women’s Centre in Maningrida, Arnhem Land,will be on show at the event.

Gabriel Nodea on Country. Photo by Warmun Art Centre and Darren Clark Photography.

Burarra woman and Assistant Manager of the Bábbarra Women’s Centre, Jessica Phillips, said the opportunity is incredibly significant, as it brings in funding for the centre and enables the sharing of stories from their remote community.

“It’s about sharing our stories with the wider community … [and] it brings us new customers, new retailers. The more we sell, the more we are able to produce.”

“It keeps the women’s centre going,” Ms Phillips said.

The Bábbarra Women’s Centre was founded in 1989 as a women’s refuge and is a centre point of the community.

“We have fifteen artists from twelve language groups. There are 12 languages in the community and most women speak at least seven to eight languages. The centre plays an important part in getting these women in one spot and sharing knowledge and culture through printing and designing—keeping those cultural stories continued.”

The National Indigenous Art Fair is presented by the Blak Markets, a social enterprise branch of First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation. They’ve partnered with the Port Authority of NSW and Destination NSW.

First Hand Solutions has provided many artists with the chance to attend the fair as part of their ‘Heart in Art’ program providing economic and professional development opportunities to Aboriginal artist from remote communities.

CEO of First Hand Solutions, Peter Cooley said the fair is an opportunity to meet artists and see remote community art in the heart of Sydney.

“We are dedicated to ensuring Indigenous people are the architects of their own futures and we are thrilled to offer artists the chance to travel to Sydney to promote and sell their artworks and host workshops demonstrating their unique arts and cultural practices,” he said.

Dolorosa Carrington having a hang. Photo by Warmun Art Centre and Darren Clark Photography.

Ms Phillips said she’s looking forward to the trip.

“I feel really privileged to be invited down. Having the travel sponsorship, it really helps especially because we are so remote,” she said.

“I’d like to thank the National Art Fair for holding the event and inviting me – I’m so thankful because this opportunity keeps our centre continuing into the future, it gets us out there.”

The market is part of NAIDOC Week celebrations and will feature live music, weaving circles and traditional dancing.

The event follows the successful 2018 fair, which hosted 25 remote art centres from the Northern Territory, South Australia and West Australia, 40 Aboriginal stallholders from around NSW, and saw 15,000 visitors over two days.

The event is funded by Lendlease and Gilbert + Tobin and will be hosted at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th June 2019.

By Rachael Knowles