Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New works from SANTA TERESA

Today we've received some new works from SANTA TERESA , a small community of 500 people south east of Alice Springs. We should have all the new paintings online in the next day or so.

Santa Teresa was a Catholic Mission which was handed back to traditional owners in 1976. Many of the people in this community have a unique belief system which is a blend of Christianity and traditional Aboriginal Dreaming.

We found this film clip from Santa Teresa which has some terrific old footage which gives an insight into what it was like for people growing up during the Mission times.

Visitors can go and visit Santa Teresa (also called Ltyentye Apurte) but permits might be required to enter Aboriginal owned land - check with the Central Land Council for the latest info. If you want to go its best to get to Alice Springs then hire a 4wd vehicle. The 80km road is 15km sealed road and 65km unsealed (dirt) road and takes between 45min to 1.5 hours depending on weather.

The history of the Santa Teresa Community is quite interesting. The roots of this community go back to the 1920's when a bush camp was set up at Anzac Hill in Alice Springs. Anzac Hill is the main hill overlooking the township of Alice Springs. (View from Anzac Hill below).

The reason Aboriginal people were moving off their traditional lands and into Alice Springs was principally deprivation of their traditional lands - basically they had nowhere else to go.

In the 1930's the bush camp moved slightly north to Charles Creek. In 1935 Catholic Missionaries arrived at Charles Creek and established a school for Aboriginal children. The Mission that grew out of this bush camp became known as the 'Little Flour Mission' which is attributed to the practice of paying Aboriginal workers with rations of flour, sugar and tobacco which was common at the time.

Around the time of WWII more and more non-Aboriginal people arrived in Alice Springs township and with that came prejudice and further hardship for Aboriginal people.

The army took over Alice Springs around 1942 as a midpoint for transferring troops and equipment to Darwin. All non-essential civilians were evacuated. At this time curfews were put in place for Aboriginal people - they were allowed into town during the day to work but as the sun set they had to make their way back to their various camps.

In 1942, a young Aboriginal girl from the Mission contracted meningitis. The next day the army decided to load everyone from the Mission into army trucks and relocate them to an abandoned gold mine 100km east of Alice Springs. They stayed there for the next 11 or so years until poor water supply forced another move to their present location - 80km south east of Alice Springs.

The Artwork.

The art movement at Santa Teresa started with a fabric painting course in 1987. The ladies who painted participated in an exhibition in 1988 and in 1989 they received government funding to build an art centre.

The painting style from this area is very distinctive - generally comprised of symmetrical dot work designs in vivid colours - this style came instinctively to the women.

Unlike many other Aboriginal painters, the Santa Teresa painters often depict a number of concepts or stories within their paintings. They draw their inspiration from their country including flowers, the sky, stars and landforms. They also incorporate traditional symbols like the concentric circle motif which can represent a number of things including waterholes and campfires.

The ladies also paint ceramics and we have a number of these also in the gallery - please contact us by email to see our current stock. Each item is hand painted and unique. Christmas is coming....

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