Channeling deep connections to Country and culture through art

Cultural Heart

Tarnanthi, the Art Gallery of South Australia's annual celebration of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, is expanding its celebration to an international audience. Tarnanthi, held 16 October 2020 to 31 January 2021, will feature an Adelaide-based exhibition and Art Fair, as well as an international exhibition in Brittany, France.

Adelaide Exhibition

This year, the major Tarnanthi exhibition Open Hands features more than 80 artists at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Open Hands highlights how the creativity of First Nations women artists forms a vital cultural link in sharing knowledge across generations. Through the act of making, artists channel deep connections to Country and culture.

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Iluwanti Ken, Amata, South Australia, 2020, image courtesy the artist and Tjala Arts, photo: Meg Hansen

Tarnanthi’s 2020 creative vision is led by Barkandji artist and curator Nici Cumpston, an Australian photographer, painter, curator, writer, and educator who has been recognised with an OAM for her leadership in presenting Aboriginal art.

‘Open Hands, celebrates the ongoing and often unseen work that women in communities do to maintain culture. Keeping these stories alive and sharing knowledge is deeply embedded within everyday life across Australia.’

- Nici Cumpston OAM

The artists featured in this year's Tarnanthi have expressed themselves in a variety of media, including painting, works on paper, photography, moving image, sound installation, weaving, ceramics and sculpture. The thread that binds these works together from across the continent is the role of art. The stories they share are as rich and diverse as their practices.

International Exhibition

Tarnanthi will also have its first international offering in 2020, in a collaboration with the APY Art Centre Collective. Presenting new works by 34 artists from the APY Lands, the exhibition will occupy an entire floor of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes, Brittany in western France.

Also among the 87 artists in Tarnanthi 2020 are mother-daughter duo Sonja Carmichael and Elisa-Jane Carmichael, from Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). Together, they have created delicate woven objects deeply embedded in culture. These objects reappear as ghostly images within large scale textiles using the cyanotype alternative photographic technique.

Tarnanthi Art Fair

The annual Tarnanthi Art Fair, designed as a COVID-safe event for 2020, will be held from 4 to 6 December at Tandanya. The Art Fair will feature a curated display of works for sale, carefully selected by dozens of art centres.

‘Creating art is a vital source of income that supports economic empowerment and cultural resilience in remote communities. Through the Tarnanthi Art Fair, buyers are guaranteed that every dollar from sales goes directly back to artists and their communities.’

- Art Gallery of South Australia Director Rhana Devenport ONZM


About Tarnanthi

An Art Gallery of South Australia flagship project, Tarnanthi is an annual cultural celebration that alternates in format between a state-wide festival in one year and a major focus exhibition the following year.

The word ‘Tarnanthi’ (pronounced tar-nan-dee) comes from the language of the Kaurna people, the traditional owners of the Adelaide Plains. It means to come forth or appear – like the sun and the first emergence of light. Tarnanthi presents the forefront of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art from across the country and provides an energised platform for artists to share important stories as new light is shed on their practice.