Bourke First Nations visual artists are flourishing with the opening of a new gallery supported by Muda Aboriginal Corporation, which also runs regional radio network 2CUZ FM.
The Bourke Aboriginal Art Gallery is more than just an outlet for artists’ work. It also has workshop space, including woodworking space and equipment where they can create their art and contemporary cultural objects. All materials including canvases, paints and brushes are provided free of charge and the gallery charges a small commission on the artwork sold to cover administration and supply costs.
Visitors to the Bourke Aboriginal Art Gallery can meet artists, watch them at work and have them explain the stories behind their artworks before purchasing artworks. There are also works for sale online. It is a model of making, marketing and selling art that has been widely adopted in remote Aboriginal communities across Central and Northern Australia and in which NSW is seen to lag behind.
Since a soft opening on Christmas Eve, the gallery has experienced strong interest and sales beyond expectations, all the way through to the recent Easter Holiday weekend.
The gallery development is the result of a partnership between Muda Aboriginal Corporation, The Bourke Shire Council and the Bourke Arts Council with major funding through the NSW Government’s Regional Cultural Fund.
Muda is a member of the NSW Aboriginal Culture, Heritage & Arts Association (ACHAA) and its Chair Dot Martin is a former Chair of ACHAA, which seeks to be a peak body representing NSW Aboriginal cultural centres, just as the arts and craft centres in other parts of Australia have their representative bodies.
“This is the exciting next step in Muda’s aspirations as a cultural organisation through media and arts,” she says. “We already broadcast culture in language across a northern NSW network including Bourke, Walgett, Brewarrina and Lightning Ridge. We have a sculptural park and a cultural space where visitors can view artefacts at the 2CUZ FM’s studio building in Bourke. Being able to support our artists, develop their work and help them earn income is an exciting phase.”