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Off the Walls: art in the context of cultural politics

27 October 2011

A rich and diverse collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, gathered over almost 40 years by Australian Government agencies responsible for Aboriginal affairs will be on display at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra until June, 2012.

The exhibition Off the Walls: Art from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Agencies 1967-2005 draws from the ATSIAAC collection of more than 2000 objects including bark paintings, water colours, carvings, basket and fibre work, spears, sporting trophies and posters.

The art works were collected by Australian Government agencies including the Council for Aboriginal Affairs (CAA), the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the Aboriginal Development Commission and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). The collection is now called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art Collection.

"Off the Walls is not just an art exhibition, it presents art in the context of cultural politics over four profoundly important decades for Indigenous Australians. It is an eclectic, diverse and surprising collection", said Andrew Sayers, Director of the National Museum of Australia.

The ATSIAAC Collection presents an important guide to how and where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art developed over four remarkable decades. The Off the Walls exhibition takes a journey into a world of Indigenous identity, politics and history at a time of considerable social change in Australia.

Full understanding of the ATSIAAC collection has been hampered by a lack of detailed documentation about many of the artists and where and when the works came from. To help fill the gaps in our knowledge the National Museum is encouraging people with memories of the works to join a website conversation to help Museum staff document the Collection.

Off the Walls: Art from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs agencies 1967-2005 will be on display at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra from 28 October, 2011 to 10 June, 2012. Admission is free. For more information about the exhibition visit: http://nma.gov.au/exhibitions/off_the_walls/

For interviews, images and more information please contact Dennis Grant on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481; Caroline Vero on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au