Indigenous art and culture celebration, Tarnanthi Festival 2021, launched at Art Gallery of SA

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Native title campaigner Eddie Mabo’s daughter, Gail, will display her artwork at the 2021 Tarnanthi Festival. (ABC News: Brant Cumming)

Cutting-edge contemporary artworks from Indigenous Australians across the country are being unveiled in Adelaide as part of this year’s Tarnanthi Festival.

About 1,400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists have taken part in a range of events with 189 people showcasing their work at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

For the first time, this year’s popular Tarnanthi Art Fair will operate only online.

Artistic Director Nici Cumpston said people from around the country and world would be able to log on to purchase a huge range of works.

“We were worried about there being a lockdown and us not being able to support the artists to be able to come and sell their work,” she said.

“This is really an important platform for the artists to be able to share their stories, for them to be able to tell us their histories, whether they are good stories or whether they are tragic stories.”

Artist Gail Mabo from the Piadram clan is the daughter of native title campaigner Eddie Mabo, who changed the course of Australian history.

Her work is made with bamboo that was planted by her father decades ago at the James Cook University in Townsville.

She said her dad would be proud of her work today.

“Growing up with a dad who changed history comes with its own ropes to bare,” Ms Mabo said.

“I am quite honoured to be his daughter and to have the ability to share his stories with lots of people.”

She said her father, who painted watercolour, inspired her to become an artist.

“With doing the arts, it acknowledges Indigenous peoples and the places they come from,” she said.

“With each area within this exhibition you are acknowledging people, place and culture because not one community is the same as the other.

“We all come from different communities we all speak different languages, but we have a connection which is connection to country.”

‘There’s a long way to go in Australia’

Meanwhile, Trawlwoolway woman Julie Gough will turn the tables on Victorian-era furniture and paintings.

Her installation tells the tragic story of her family history and questions the impact of colonisation.

“They suggest that this is all good and happy and colonisation is pleasant and they don’t show the dark side, which is the elimination of my ancestors,” Ms Gough said.

“There is such a long way to go in Australia for Aboriginal people to not even be invited at the table, that’s still yet to come quite often, but to actually be the table that others will come to for how to proceed, how to describe, discuss, educate.”

The online Tarnanthi Art Fair will go live today and run until Monday.

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