Every year, DAAFF celebrates the rich cultural and artistic diversity of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Centres with their signature event, the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, affectionately known as DAAF.
Now in its 15th year, DAAF has secured a reputation as one of the country’s most significant and internationally recognised art events.
“In addition to creating important flow-on benefits for Indigenous communities, DAAF is the only event of its kind that brings diverse local and international audiences together with artists, performers and arts workers from some of Australia’s most remote regions,” Claire Summers, Executive Director at Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation, said.
Visitors will have a genuine opportunity to meet Indigenous artists, performers, designers and arts workers from some of the most remote regions of Australia.
So far, the Fair has showcased the work of emerging and established artists from over 75 Indigenous Art Centres from across Australia, collectively representing over 2,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Taking no commission on artworks sold, DAAF also ensures that 100 per cent of all sales generated go directly back to the artists and Art Centres.
The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair 2021
Held in Darwin on Larrakia Country, DAAF 2021 will run over three days on the 6-8 August, bringing together new and seasoned audiences, artists and art lovers with a shared passion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, design and culture.
Each art centre features works inspired by their varied locations across Australia, from remote desert and coastal regions, to rural and urban communities.
An extensive range of styles and media are available to purchase each year, including paintings on canvas, bark paintings, works on paper (including limited edition prints), sculptures, didgeridoos, fibre and textile art, fashion, and cultural regalia direct from the Art Centres.
DAAFF also provides a range of interactive educational and cultural experiences for audiences to immerse themselves in alongside the Fair.
The vibrant Public Program presents artists’ talks, workshops and masterclasses, traditional dance performances and music, food experiences and children’s activity stations.
Emerging Indigenous fashion and textiles
Over the years, a strong textile and fashion element has also emerged, with many First Nations designers and artists presenting unique collections and exciting collaborations.
As part of the Fair’s annual program, DAAFF presents the iconic Country to Couture fashion showcase, delivering a high energy runway event each year. The National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA) are also presented, recognising design excellence and innovation across six categories.
“We’re seeing fashion as a platform for cultural exchange and awareness, creating new development opportunities and pathways for our Art Centres, artists, designers and their communities,” Summers said.
Both events form part of a broader program called Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP). The program sees DAAFF collaborate with Indigenous Australians working on a range of development programs, mentoring opportunities and promotional events in the fashion space throughout the year.
A week of art, design and culture in the Northern Territory
Alongside the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Public Program and fashion events that DAAFF hosts, there are also several broader events happening in the Northern Territory over August. It truly is a great time to visit.
DAAFF is proud to align itself with the Garma Festival, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, National Indigenous Music Awards, and the Salon des Refusés. Together these art, culture and music events create a week of cultural excellence and mark the most significant national celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the world.
Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair digital offering
After pivoting to a successful digital offering in 2020 due to the pandemic, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair is planning to resume its physical form in 2021. It will, however, be carrying through a number of online elements into the 2021 program, bringing a taste of Darwin to audiences both across Australia and the globe.
The Public Program will expand to a year-round digital series, and the Country to Couture and NIFA events will once again be shared via a digital broadcast.
Why invest in Indigenous Art?
Art Centres play an important role in maintaining and strengthening cultural practices. They operate as a meeting place and offer opportunities for training, education, career pathways and enterprise for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This economic aspect is crucial not only to the Indigenous art and craft industry but also to the health of these communities. Often, art centre sales are the only externally generated source of income.
Supporting Art Centres ensures that Australia’s Indigenous art sector continues to flourish and excel. The economic independence of communities allows people to live on their homelands, resulting in the preservation of traditional practices, ceremonies, language, art and spirituality.
Art Centres are a pillar of the community that provide many social benefits not directly linked to the arts. These services include assistance with health and medical, family, education, legal, transport and financial management issues.
Art Centres also provide a safe and supportive environment for artists and their families, contributing to the social and physical health of community members.
Promoting the ethical purchasing of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander artwork sits at the heart of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, and is embedded in their vision and mission. Visitors to DAAF have the opportunity to ethically purchase artwork direct from Indigenous-owned Art Centres, ensuring that 100 per cent of all sales generated go back to support the art centre’s communities.
Some great organisations you can visit to learn more about purchasing the ‘right way’ include the Indigenous Art Code, Arts Law, and the Copyright Agency.
There are also the Art Centre Peak Bodies including The Aboriginal Art Centre Hub WA (AACHWA), Arnhem Northern and Kimberley Artists (ANKA) Aboriginal Corporation, Desart, Indigenous Art Centre Alliance (IACA), and Ku Arts.
To find out more, head to daaf.com.au
Feature image: Yarrenyty Arltere Artist Rhonda Sharpe sitting in Yarrenyty Arltere © Sarah Andrews