Gannon House Gallery grew out of a passion for collecting Australian art. Travels in the desert in the early 1980’s, when many of the art communities were just becoming established, stimulated the desire to share the unique and mesmerising artwork produced there with a wider audience.
The historic house in the Rocks district made the perfect home for what was becoming one of the larger collections of Aboriginal art and artefacts in Australia. Shown along side contemporary artists living and working through out Australia in a range of mediums, the Aboriginal art collection became a destination for Sydney collectors and international visitors.
The artists the gallery works with live and work in the remote Northern Territory communities of the central and western desert and coastal Arnhem Land. While encapsulating only a few of the many hundreds of cultural groups living in Australia these communities have produced some of the most well recognized Australian artists, exhibited and collected around the world.
The Utopia community, 350km north-east of Alice Springs, has produced one of the best known and sucessful Aboriginal Artists, Emily Kame Kngwarreye. She began painting in her 80’s and painted prolifically for the final decade of her life. Kathleen and Gloria Petyarre, Minnie Pwerle, Ada Bird, Lindsay Bird, Anna Pitjara, Jeannie Pitjara and Jeannie Mills Pwerle among many others are artists who come from this community. The main languages spoken are Alyawarre, Anmatyerr and English. Many of the women’s stories are abstracted depictions of plants used for food and medicine and associated ceremonial sites or the body paint designs applied to their bodies for ceremony.
The western desert artists paint mostly at in their homes around Kintore, Kiwikurra or for the painting community, Papunya Tula. These communities are about 450km north-west of Alice Springs, almost over the boarder into Western Australia. Papunya was the area attributed with the beginnings of the desert art movement. Teacher Geoffery Barden encouraged children and later adults to paint their stories as a way of creating a common language of understanding between the disparate groups, forcibly moved from their home lands into a centralised community setting. The first exhibited work was painted on boards moving later to the acrylic paint on linen or canvas. Artists from this area at Gannon House Gallery include George Tjungurrayi, Willy Tjungurrayi, Warlungkurra Napanangka, Makinti Napanangka, Ningurra Napurrrula, Walala, Thomas and Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri (pictured above), Yalti and Yurkultji Napangati among others.
Arnhem Land at the top of the Northern Territory has had a different art making trajectory to the desert communities. Prior to European arrival in Australia the top end communities had established trade relationships with Indonesian traders. they produced artefacts and barks specifically to sell or trade but also to communicate their values and culture. The bark paintings included designs that were particular to a person and their location and have been used in land rights claims since 1973 when the first bark petition was send to Canberra.
Bark paintings, hollow logs, carvings, weavings, spears, tools and ceremonial objects objects have been collected since the early 1920’s. Maningrida, Yirrkala and Ramingining are the main communities where work is sourced by Gannon House Gallery. Some older collections of artefacts were purchased in the mid 1990’s through reputable auctions or from private collectors.
A signatory to the indigenous art code, Gannon house Gallery has always operated with integrity. All artwork comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and detailed provenance. We welcome the opportunity to share what we have learnt about Aboriginal art and the talented artists who create it.