UNDER THE HAMMER Spectacular indigenous artworks are up for grabs in a once-a-year fundraising auction event happening right now. Don’t miss out
Over the last three years Territory artists and arts centres have rallied behind the community legal services at the Environmental Defenders Office. Three years ago the EDO NT lost federal funding, leaving its future in limbo.
After hearing that news, prominent artists from the Gulf, Nancy McDinny, Stewart Hoosen and Jacky Green, donated artworks for principal lawyer David Morris to use for fundraising. Morris had worked in the area to help community members fight for the rights of their land and environment against mining companies.
“All of us in the family and other families, we all talked about it — we have to donate to David because he’s a good bloke who’s helping us a lot,” McDinny said. “We need him, he’s the bloke that we trust to be with us.”
The Borroloola artists’ donations set off a chain of events that led to the EDO NT holding a significant online art auction every year since.
Morris said the auction, now in its third year, received more than 100 pieces of artwork from 18 arts centres across the NT this year.
“It’s become the stalwart of the EDO fundraising strategy and something we require to sustain the office, to continue providing free legal services to Territorians on environment matters,” he said.
“The auction is a mutually beneficial event — the revenue is split between artists, art centres and the EDO.
“From my perspective it feels much better to be returning a benefit, rather than just fundraising from them.”
While the EDO receives $50,000 in funding each year for policy work, its work with legal representation is still unfunded and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future under the present government.
Last year the auction generated more than $50,000 for artists and $50,000 for the EDO NT.
The 2017 auction launched last night at Outstation Gallery in Parap. It will be held online throughout May and closes with a finale in mid-June at simultaneous cocktail events in Melbourne and Sydney, at major law firms Gilbert & Tobin and Arnold Block Leibler, to countdown the final hour of the event.
“There’s a really great synergy between Aboriginal art and environmental law because, not exclusively, but almost all of the artwork refers to the country in some way, shape or form, so there’s this tremendous link between the work,” Morris said.
“We’ve got absolutely extraordinary pieces this year. Susan Wanji Wanji from Tiwi has a piece called ‘Bombing of Darwin’ and it describes her experience when bombs were dropped on Darwin.
“It’s a piece of enormous scale ... it’s quite an imposing piece and totally unique in the way she depicts the planes and her experience.”
McDinny has again donated several pieces for this year’s auction, telling the stories of her forebears.
“(The paintings depict) a lot of stories about our old people and hunting on country, and they had a tribal war with the first Europeans who came, and a lot of stories about them,” she said.
“The story has been passed on from the old people to us as we grew up.”
To view the online art auction and make a bid visit galabid.com/auction/edont. To find out more about the artists and their works visit art4edont2017.com
Susan Wanji Wanji’s ‘Bombing of Darwin’ piece
Nancy McDinny’s ‘Murndarngu (Turtle)’ was donated to the EDO
Kathy Inkamala’s ‘Danger Mines’ piece is up for auction