In October this year we held the South East Aboriginal Arts Market for the second time at Carriageworks, Sydney. As the name suggests, the market exclusively showcases the cultural heritage of south-eastern Aboriginal Australia, with the artists involved all tracing their heritage to New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, the Murray Basin Catchment and Tasmania. Featuring 26 stalls, the line-up was a mix of established and emerging creative collectives and independent artists employing traditional and contemporary materials including weaving, ceramics, carving, photography, painting, shell-work and textiles. The market was a huge success.
The south-east is a culturally specific region in Aboriginal Australia bound by epic river systems, mountains ranges and coastal waterways. South-eastern communities have long ancestral connections that tie the region together, while subsequent waves of colonisation bind it together in new ways. It’s the region where most Aboriginal people live today, but it’s not generally associated with Aboriginal art. Yet, there is a cultural awakening happening in the region, with people learning languages and traditional skills for the first time in generations. There are artists who hold on very deeply to inherited traditions and those who are reviving and breathing new life into these traditions. Some aunties have described it as having ‘memory in their fingers’. Then there are extraordinary artists with new expressions and new ideas, tapping into old stories and old knowledge in new forms.
One of the key attractions for collectors of all levels and interests is that the South East Aboriginal Arts Market is curated to reflect the strength and diversity of this region. For the artists it is a significant opportunity for recognition and to extend their audience reach and professional development. For the public the market offers works of a high quality and reputable provenance as well as a chance to meet the makers.
Curated by Hetti Perkins and Jonathan Jones, the South East Aboriginal Arts Market has received a three-year commitment from Carriageworks and will return in November 2019.