Aboriginal art and Covid19

Aboriginal art and Covid19

Posted by Tim Jennings on 2020 Apr 01st

Thoughts on Covid19 and how we can survive as a business. 

A friend just sent me an April Fools day joke – "Prime Minister Morrison is closing all Bottle Shops as of midnight!" I had three immediate thoughts:

  1. I have a good wine stash that should get me through (self preservation first naturally!);
  2. There will be standing room only in the shop, and for 500 metres down the footpath – the 1.5 metre rule has not a hope in hell of being adhered too!; and
  3. Why would he commit political suicide?

Anyway, it was an April Fools Day joke, and damn good one! Some great humour has evolved throughout these troublesome times.

And troublesome times for all of us in some way or another. For instance, my seven year old granddaughter was in tears and couldn't understand at all - why her local playground had been closed by the Town Council. It affects us all differently.

Mbantua Gallery has its story to tell too, so l'll briefly explain where we are at.

After battling through the summer months here in the Northern Territory (as all Territory businesses do) we were looking forward to having our Darwin and Alice Springs Galleries showcase many of our new and exciting paintings.

Over the years we have always continued to keep our artists painting and being productive. There is not a lot for them to do out in their homelands in these very hot summer months. Most are fairly dormant and sit around their dwellings, staying relatively idle in the shade. Painting is usually done in the early morning or evenings, sometimes even at night with a torch for those who live in humpies (shelters made from branches, corrugated iron and whatever else they can find that works for them).

The 44/45 degree celsius heat couldn't put a stop to them painting during these months, nor to me heading out to their lands on a monthly basis - but this Covid19 has!

I had planned to drive out to Utopia on Monday March 23rd after having a couple of weeks off down south near Port Lincoln. However the Government, quite rightly, stopped all nonessential travel to the region. So naturally I didn't go. As a result of that, and many other developments associated with this disease, we put into place policies of our own. And in relation to the artists the policy is no canvas in or out until May 18th when we will review the situation. Our artists, comprising of about 100 active ones, have been notified by word of mouth directly to them, or through their family members.

Our Alice Springs gallery has closed but Nelly, Magdalena and Erin have been kept on. We have plenty for them to do in the back rooms. Work that has accumulated over the years that we never have time to get to!! As I write this blog our Darwin premise is still open but it is extremely quiet. We are desperately trying to keep our staff and it looks likely that the Government assistance will enable us to achieve that!

We have quite a number of other behind the scenes staff as well who we intend to do everything in our power to retain also.

Our Website  www.mbantua.com.au is pretty well our only source of income at the moment. And part of the behind the scenes work that is happening here is to add stock that we have in those back rooms. Much of it never (or rarely) having been displayed before.

Products that will be added over the next couple of months include a large array of old boomerangs, shields and other artefacts, more sculptures, Hermannsburg Watercolours, other aboriginal landscapes, various collections, and lots of other treasures collected over 30 years.

This pandemic has home isolated people around the world including myself (not mandatory). When I'm home I am getting so much done. Not just for the business but little things around the house and the yard – things that never normally get done! I've even noticed some wall space where I can put up a couple more paintings!!

Well that's our story to this minute, so if you too are at home and per chance notice some wall space, then make a cup of coffee and visit our website!

Take lots of care and God Bless.