Araluen Art Collection

The Araluen Arts Centre aims to develop a Collection of artworks that reflect a permanent record of arts practice in Central Australia for the benefit, enjoyment and education of the Central Australian community and visitors to Alice Springs.

The primary focus for collection development is the acquisition of artworks by artists living in Central Australia; artworks by artists who have a strong connection to the region; and artworks by artists which exhibit a dialogue of cultural relevance to the region. The acquisition of artworks by Central Australian artists is seen as an investment in artistic excellence and an acknowledgement of professional achievement. The Araluen Art Collection also includes artworks by national artists that characterise contemporary arts practice.

The Araluen Art Collection incorporates works from the early 1930s through to the present. A key focus of the Araluen Collection is artworks by Aboriginal artists from Central Australia. The Collection highlights important artworks by Albert Namatjira, who played a seminal role in the development of Aboriginal art from the region; intricate, early Papunya boards; and, contemporary artworks by Aboriginal artists living and working in remote and regional locations throughout Central Australia, incorporating the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.

The Araluen Art Collection is built on community collections assembled by the Central Australian Art Society and the Alice Springs Art Foundation, dating from the early 1970s. These collections were donated to the Alice Springs Town Council in 1989 and 1990 respectively. The Alice Springs Town Council managed the operations of the Araluen Arts Centre until 1996, when management was handed over to the Northern Territory Government.

Since 1991, the Araluen Arts Centre has collected works by Aboriginal artists from the annual Desert Mob exhibition which features new works from Aboriginal community art centres in Central Australia.

The Araluen Arts Centre continues to acquire artworks with the financial support of the Northern Territory Government, the Friends of Araluen, the Alice Springs Art Foundation and through specific fundraising projects and events. Many generous individuals have and continue to donate works, either directly or via the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Fund, while local businesses, such as Povey Stirk Lawyers and Notaries, provide regular support for acquisitions.

The Araluen Art Collection also includes a number of site specific, public artworks, commissioned for the opening of the Araluen Arts Centre in 1984.

The Araluen Arts Centre also acts as a keeping place for community collections, accepting works on long term loan to ensure that artworks of significance to the Central Australian community are preserved for the benefit of future generations and are accessible by local owners and creators in a secure and environmentally controlled facility.

Mike Gillam, Desert Oaks at Sunrise, 2002, Ilfochrome photograph, 89 x 115 cm

Araluen Art Collection.  Purchased 2002

Alice Springs Art Foundation Collection

The Alice Springs Art Foundation was formed in 1969 with the purpose of organising an art prize that would raise the profile of Alice Springs and bring more nationally recognised artists’ work to the Centre. The first acquisitive Alice Prize was in 1971. The event utilised many makeshift venues until 1984 when the Araluen Arts Centre was opened and became home to the Alice Prize. This biennial event attracts strong national participation.

In 1990 the Alice Springs Art Foundation commenced pre-selection by a panel for the Alice Prize with a residency for the winning artist. The collection drawn from the Alice Prize is a fascinating record of the development of contemporary art in Australia.

Catriona Stanton, Swathe (detail), 2008, mixed media 105 x 85 x 8 cm

Alice Springs Town Council Collection.  Acquired by the Alice Springs Art Foundation from the 35th Alice Prize, 2008.

Central Australian Art Society Collection

The Central Australian Art Society was established in 1963 with the members focussed on the development of art in Central Australia. The Society organised exhibitions as well as field trips and studio nights.

In 1971 the Central Australian Art Society held its first annual exhibition, known as the Caltex Art Award, sponsored by Caltex. Entries were open to Northern Territory artists and up until 1983 some 58 artworks were acquired before Caltex ended sponsorship. This annual exhibition now continues as the Advocate Art Award and has been a non acquisitive award since 2004.


Sally Mumford, Tapestry, 2003, pencil on paper, 65 x 65 cm

Alice Springs Town Council Collection.  Purchased by the Central Australian Art Society from the Advocate Art Award, 2003. 

Alice Springs Town Council Collection

In addition to the Central Australian Art Society and the Alice Springs Art Foundation collections, the Alice Spring Town Council Collection contains the Jock Nelson Bequest; a significant collection of Aboriginal paintings purchased from the newly established Papunya Tula Artists in the early 1970s. The Alice Springs Town Council Collection also contains an important collection of watercolours by Albert Namatjira and his mentor Rex Battarbee, purchased with financial assistance from the Territory Insurance Office (TIO).

Unknown, Untitled, 1972, acrylic on hardboard, 64 x 56cm

Alice Springs Toen Council Collection

The Tjanpi Desert Weavers Collection

The Tjanpi Desert Weavers Collection was purchased from the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation for the Araluen Art Collection in 2004. This Collection represents a unique artistic and historic story within the Aboriginal arts movement in Central Australia. It documents the early developments of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, from 1996 thru to 2000.

The 81 works include a wide variety of grass (tjanpi) and textile objects from 28 artists living and working throughout the Central Desert region. The Collection was initially assembled as an exhibition, titled, Manguri Weaving, which toured across Australia and overseas. It contains objects ranging from the first woven and coiled baskets, through to figures and animal sculptures, showing the use and inclusion of materials such as emu feathers, wool, grass, carved wooden animals, beads and raffia.

The Araluen Arts Centre continues to add to the Collection as new works from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers are produced and exhibited.

Nuniwa Imundura Donegan, Basket, 1997, wangurnu grass, emu feathers, ininti beads, string, 52 x 51 x 11 cm.  Araluen Art Collection. Purchased 2004

Alice Desert Festival Wearable Art Collection

The Alice Desert Festival Wearable Art Collection consists of more than 30 wearable works of art which are permanently housed at the Araluen Arts Centre. These works have been acquired from the annual Wearable Art Awards, presented by the Alice Desert Festival since 2002. Each year winning entries are selected across a number of different categories.

Simone Guascoine & Jill Jansons, Mazu Shan, Mazu Dai (Mazu Good, Mazu Bad), 2009, Hessian, fish skins, white bait, shellac, welding wire, rubber inner tubes, cane, mollusk

Alice Desert Festival Wearable Art Collection. Acquired 2009.

Rex Battarbee Collection

The Rex Battarbee Collection was acquired by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) in 1998 from the artist’s daughter, Gayle Quarmby, and is on permanent loan to the Araluen Arts Centre. It consists of two hundred items created by artists of the Hermannsburg School – of whom Albert Namatjira was pre-eminent – and by artists in the Battarbee circle including Rex Battarbee himself. These artworks, which date from 1925 to 1972, represent a comprehensive record of early Hermannsburg art and Rex Battarbee’s responses to Ntaria, the Hermannsburg area.

Ewald Namatjira, Untitled, 1947, watercolour on paper, 19 x 21 cm

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Collection. Purchased 1988.

Ngurratjuta Pmara Ntjarra Aboriginal Corporation Collection

The Ngurratjuta Pmara Ntjarra Aboriginal Corporation Collection is on permanent loan from the Corporation and contains important artworks by Albert Namatjira, his family and his contemporaries. Included in this loan are artworks by Alfred Cook, John Gardner and documents relating to Albert Namatjira and his artworks.

John Gardner Finke Gorge - Glen Helen, date unknown oil on linen, 104.5 x 120 cm

Ngurratjuta Pmara Ntjarra Aboriginal Corporation Collection

Papunya Community School Collection

The Papunya Community School Collection is on long term loan from the Papunya Community School and consists of 14 early boards painted at Papunya in the early 1970s. These paintings are superb examples that define the beginning of the Western Desert painting movement and are painted on either chipboard or masonite. The School received funding from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), to conserve and restore the works, which occurred in 2002. The paintings depict mostly children’s stories and were used for teaching purposes. The artists include, Long Jack Phillipus, who today remains the only living artist represented in the Collection, and also includes works by Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi, Uta Uta Tjangala and Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri.

Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi, Goanna Love Story, c 1971, acrylic on chipboard, 63 x 48cm Papunya Community School Collection

Warlukurlangu Aboriginal Artists Association Collection

In 2007, the Warlukurlangu Aboriginal Artists Association placed 38 paintings and 30 limited edition prints in safe keeping at the Araluen Arts Centre. These artworks were produced between 1989 - 2004 and represent some of the seminal artworks produced during this period. The artists include Judy Napangardi Watson, Maggie Napangardi Watson, Paddy Japaltjarri Stewart, Paddy Japaltjarri Sims and Darby Jampitjinpa Ross. These artworks have been exhibited in America and are regularly included in exhibitions at the Araluen Arts Centre.

Darby Jampitjinpa Ross, Liwirringki Jukurrpa, 1997, acrylic on linen, 183 x 76cm

Warlukurlangu Aboriginal Artists Association Collection

Keringke Arts Collection

The Keringke Arts Collection has been housed at Araluen Arts Centre since 2000. This Collection consists of 49 artworks including paintings, wire sculptures and painted boxes along with punu dating from 1994 - 2005. The Collection contains several fine examples of works by eastern Arrernte artists Kathleen Wallace and Gabriella Wallace.

Kathleen Wallace, Seed Spirit, 1999, acrylic on canvas, 50.8 x 40.5 cm

Keringke Arts Collection