Photos by Mel George (art centre) and Skein (landscapes)
Established in 1948, Ernabella Arts is Australia’s oldest, continuously running Indigenous Art Centre. Ernabella Arts is in Pukatja Community, at the eastern end of the Musgrave Ranges in the far north west of South Australia. Their mission is stated below:
Ernabella Arts is a place where we senior women and men and young women and men practice and develop our art, in order to sustain, support and promote our cultural heritage, and to improve the lifestyle of our community’s members.
Skein were introduced to Ernabella Arts through Ku Arts who are the South Australian support organisation for Aboriginal art centres and artists. We were engaged to design furniture and display pieces for the art centre Awulari Gallery, Office, Kitchen and Store Room.
In November 2018, we travelled to Pukatja and spent one week in the art centre and community, to better understand the requirements of the artists and the art centre manager. The art centre had taken shape through its evolution from the first incarnation as a craft room, into a culturally strong contemporary art centre. As such, the spaces and display elements had developed organically and lacked consistency and unity.
Skein designed and documented rectification works, an internal fit-out, artwork display joinery, and work surfaces. The design focussed on robust material selections for longevity and a bright natural colour palette to connect the internal spaces with the landscape outside.
We would like to thank the Aṉangu community, Ernabella Arts Artists, and Mel George - Ernabella Arts manager. We would also like to credit Ku Arts and Adriano Pupilli Architects who developed an initial feasibility study for Ernabella Arts Incorporated highlighting the art centre areas in need of upgrade.