Tarnanthi: Arrpmarnintja – Creation from the Beginning

Please note, the Museum will be closed on Wednesday 22 November. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Dates: Open daily from 22 October 2023 - 21 January 2024

Times: 10am - 4pm

Location: Santos Museum of Economic Botany, Adelaide Botanic Garden

Free entry

Explore this new exhibition, part of the Tarnanthi Festival

The Museum of Economic Botany in Adelaide Botanic Garden opened in 1881 to showcase economically useful plants to the fledgling South Australian colony.

Along with European specimens, it highlighted native plants and their uses by First Nations people.

Trained and amateur botanists—some of them missionaries based in remote Central Australia—also donated specimens to the Botanic Garden’s Herbarium.

In both contexts, First Nations names for plants were seldom recorded and specimens were displayed, severed from their rich cultural context.

Arrpmarintja – Creation from the Beginning, seeks to redress this imbalance.

Central Desert artists fromIltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre explore and record significant native plants on Country. Male artists paint the vegetation of Alyape(Palm Valley) a sacred male site. Here arrangkeye(cabbage palm), grown from seeds originally carried from Northern Australia by ancestors millennia ago, still thrive.

Female artists capture native plants around the Ntaria (Hermannsburg) and along the Lharapinta (Finke River), reflecting on their uses and meanings, and inscribing them with Western Aranda names.

Gallery Flaneur

Did you know there's a miniature art gallery in Adelaide's laneways? Gallery Flaneur is displaying an off-shoot of this Tarnanthi exhibition from 7 October - 17 November. Find out more here.

Iltja Ntjarra - Hermannsburg artist school

Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) is an Aboriginal-owned and governed art centre in Alice Springs. It supports Hermannsburg School artists, who continue to paint in the tradition of renowned watercolour artist, Albert Namatjira (1902 -1959).

Namatjira grew up at Hermannsburg mission, established in 1877 by German Lutherans on the Finke River in Central Australia. Visiting artist, Rex Battarbee, introduced him to European traditions of watercolour painting. Namatjira’s work met with great success, both nationally and internationally. His descendants are finding similar success with their vivid images of Central Australia. Watercolour landscapes by these third generation artists have been collected by all major Australian institutions.

Arrpmarintja – Creation from the Beginning includes work from both established and emerging Iltja Ntjarra artists including Mona Lisa Clements, Selma Coulthard, Kathy Inkamala, Dellina Inkamala, Delray Inkamala, Dianne Inkamala, Granville Inkamala, Reinhold Inkamala, Russell Inkamala, Vanessa Inkamala, Mandy Malbunka, Betty Namatjira Wheeler, Hubert Pareroultja, and Mervyn Rubuntja.

Read more about the artists here.

Artworks are for sale through Iltja Ntjarra Art Centre.

About Tarnanthi

Acclaimed across Australia, the Tarnanthi Festival showcases the latest contemporary works by hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across the continent.

Image by Vanessa Inkamala 2023

Watercolour on paper

Recent posts

Goodman Building restoration works wins industry award

18 July 2023

Have you ever driven past the beautiful heritage-listed Goodman Building when passing the Garden on Hackney Road? Did you know this building was formerly the base for the Municipal Tramways Trust but now serves as the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium administration building.