10 Local Darwin Artists You Should Know

It’s made a mark on the map for unforgettable tropical sunsets and enviable proximity to national parks, but Darwin’s budding art scene is an underrated part of life in the northern city. Already abundant in originality and individuality, creativity literally spills over onto the streets, filling innovative museums, galleries and spaces all across the city. The capital of the Northern Territory embraces Australia’s rich and diverse mix of culture, further cultivating creativity in its celebration of the Darwin artist.

Below are ten of Darwin and the NT’s finest artists. Read on to see who made the list!

1. Shannon Alexander Murphy x lltja Ntjarra Many Hands: A Rare NT Collaboration

Internationally celebrated Australian artist Shannon Alexander Murphy has more notable achievements than we can list. His solo exhibitions in cultural hotspots such as Berlin, Barcelona, Tokyo, Milan and Sydney, as well as features in significant publications, such as Time Magazine U.S.A and The Financial Times New York, are just a couple of examples that signify a level of success as an artist well worth celebrating.

Shannon Alexander Murphy at Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre preparing cow skins as materials for the collaboration.

The partnership between Shannon and lltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre aims to symbolise the relationship that Aboriginal Australians and Non-Aboriginal Australians have to their land, to their culture and to one another. As a presentation of perspective on these relations, each painting demonstrates the use of motifs, which range from the aggressive to the provocative, through to the sublime. The Central Australian Desert landscape, The Historic Colonisation of Australia, and Unity through Reconciliation and Grace are some of the themes explored in this collaboration.

What is so inherently special and rare about this partnership is the trust endowed to Shannon, as a non-Aboriginal artist, to create work with Aboriginal painters. Consequently, the paintings we see in this collaboration bring forth a piece of contemporary art history.

Rwetyepme. Mr. Sonder (Sleeping Woman), Central Australia, 2019 by Vanessa Inkamala in collaboration with Shannon Alexander Murphy.

See the full collection here.

2. Kit McNeill: Well-Travelled Darwin Artist

China’s great mountains, Darwin’s own Kakadu, The Blue Mountains, The Red Centre of Alice Springs – landscapes near and far have played an inspirational part of Kit McNeill’s body of work. As a keen traveller, Kit’s artistic merit often corresponds to her love of exploring. Kit’s current notable series, Disappearing Darwin, celebrates the heritage of the city of Darwin and its environs.

Luscious textures meet vibrant hues in Sunrise over Wentworth Falls.

Recently, Kit McNeill has been taking her explorations to a new medium; you can now find individual resin and acrylic pours in her portfolio, which in their fluid nature stray away from the structured landscapes she is otherwise so well-known by.

This resin piece incorporates sand, shells and driftwood collected from a local beach in Darwin.

3. Linda Syddick Napaltjarri: Award-Winning Indigenous NT Artist

A traditional lifestyle walking the Pintupi homelands with her family allowed Linda Syddick Napaltjarri to gain an intimate knowledge of her country, which has ultimately formed the backbone of her painting. She was raised by the famous early Western Desert painter, Shorty Lungkarta Tjungarrayi, and further developed her painting under the guidance of some of the most masterful painters in Indigenous art. In August 2006, Linda was selected as the winner of the Painting Award at the 23rd Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA).

Kangaroo Man by Linda Syddick Napaltjarri.

View Linda’s profile on Bluethumb here.

4. Roland Burrunali: Cross-Hatching NT Artist

As a key member of the Injalak Arts community, Roland Burrunali is a gifted artist with an extensive knowledge of the rock art on Injalak Hill. He is a member of the centre’s Management Committee, and has represented Injalak Arts at international exhibitions. In 2017, he was selected as a finalist in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA).

Billabong Scene by Roland Burrunali

5. Gloria Petyarre: Indigenous Prestigious Prize Winner

As a significant figure in contemporary Indigenous Australian art, Gloria Petyarre has had work exhibited in major galleries across Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia. Gloria’s bush medicine paintings involve well-defined segments filled with curved lines, conveying a strong sense of rhythm. Her style has evolved into abstract fields that represent leaves, grass and body paint.

Gloria’s signature bush medicine leaves.

6. Kerry Inkster: Pop Darwin Artist

Though she may have been born and bred in South Australia, Kerry Inkster now calls Darwin home. Having graduated from art school with a polished academic reputation and almost twenty years developing her technique to date, Kerry asks questions relating to the human condition through figurative portraiture.

“I took this image using an underwater camera. I loved the energy and dynamic pose of my model, looking like she was about to “take off”. – and the light gently capturing her face and chest while the rest of her was seemingly left behind. The image speaks of leaving what is past and moving towards a brighter future.” Featured: They Might as Wise Have Lodged a Bird.

A particular interest lies in her observations of the female image and the cultural implications of that image. Colour, tone and texture become experimental factors within Kerry’s paintings. Under the influence of expressionist movements and pop art, her current work simplifies shape and form.

Take My Hand and Lead the Way creates harsh contrasts; these bubbles of water reflect aspects of light, in contrast with the dark waters.

7. Louise Numina: Indigenous Darwin Artist with Signature Style

Under the guidance of her aunts Kathleen and Gloria Petyarre, Louise Numina began painting at Stirling Station, NT. Now based in Darwin, she has fast become a favourite with art lovers, collectors and institutions of all kinds.

Louise sits with one of the most iconic styles going, her bush medicine leaves.

Louise’s paintings predominantly depict Kurrajong Bush Medicine Leaves. In the central desert area, the women collect the Kurrajong Bush Medicine leaves. These leaves are boiled in a large tin bucket and are known locally for their ability to treat the flu, headache, backache, upset stomach and chest pains.

Louise depicts here the body paint that was painted on Aboriginal women during important ceremonies and rites of passage. Featured: Awelye Dreaming

8. Al Strangeways: Painting Personality of Stranger Subjects

English-born artist Al Strangeways shows an eclectic mix of subjects that makes it challenging to keep her to one category. People, skylines, animal bones, camels – everything has its moment. Drawn to oils, her practice has mainly developed with the Central Australian Art Society and Studio 12 artists’ collective.

The Ram is part of a series painted for a joint exhibition titled ‘What lies beneath’, which explored the images and ideas we don’t tend to contemplate in the day to day busyness of our lives.

“I’m fascinated by the identity of things, what the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called their ‘inscape,’ the internal power that holds the elements together and makes the thing unique,”Al explains. “My paintings are an attempt to represent the moment of glimpsing or ‘catching’ the inscape of the thing, be it a skyline, a person or a camel. They also explore the way light works both to shape and to convey identity and feeling. The quality of the light in central Australia still astonishes me after years here.”

Frontier Camel Yards shows Al’s first local camel ‘hang out’.

Based in Adelaide? You can see some of Al Strangeway’s wonderful creatures in our newest gallery space – more coming soon.

9. Margaret Kemarre Ross: A Demonstration of Deep Connection

Margaret Kemarre Ross of Artists of Ampilatwatja is a strong and well-known artist of the community. Her bright colours, passion for wild flowers and depictions of bush medicine are recognised throughout the centre, as well as on Bluethumb. Noted to paint like her mother, both enjoy painting together, expressing their deep tie and love of country through art.

Margaret loves to paint and she is constantly inspired by country. When she goes hunting, she enjoys seeing the bush flowers and looking for bush medicine.

10. Ezariah Kelly: Injalak’s Emerging Artist

Bold lines, a strong sense of design and high visual impact are some of the most prominent characteristics Ezariah Kelly‘s work is known for. Consequently, he is recognised as one of Injalak Arts‘s most exciting emerging artists. As an enthusiastic fisherman, he observes his environment with a keen eye that is receptive to finer details.

Frequently touching on inventive themes from the natural world, Ezariah works with the vignettes of everyday traditional life. He has more recently begun working exclusively in natural ochres, delivering rich yellows, lighter colours and earthy tones.

You can visit the full range of talent in the NT capital and surrounds by clicking here. Want to check out our picks of artists making waves in cities across Australia? The series continues with our focus on local SydneyMelbourne, Perth and Brisbane artists!

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