28 APY arts paintings comply with the National Gallery’s provenance policy

Earlier this week the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) released its independent review into the provenance of 28 paintings which were expected to be included in the institution’s June 2023 exhibition ‘Ngura Pulka – Epic Country’.

The show was postponed indefinitely ‘pending receipt of this Report and the report of an enquiry to be conducted by the South Australian Government into the management of APY arts.’

Image: National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra, Photographer: Rory Gardiner © National Gallery of Australia, 2023

Now, the NGA has shared that;

“Under the Terms of Reference, the Independent Reviewers (with the assistance of two First Nations experts) assessed whether the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) artists attributed as the creators of the paintings exercised effective creative control over the creation of the paintings, and so can properly be described as the artists responsible for those works.

The Independent Panel has determined, based on the extensive evidence assessed, that the artists exercised effective creative control and that the 28 paintings comply with the National Gallery’s provenance policy.”

In seeking to establish artistic provenance the gallery said; 

“Without exception, the Artists to whom we spoke, unequivocally told us that the works under review in each case were made by them and expressly denied that there had been any improper interference in the making of their work.

The Artists were very clear in stating (for example): “That is my painting; that is my work”; “It was only us Anungu people”; “No one added to it. It’s from our hands, the family did this together”; “[painting] is not the white staff’s job”; “you can ask a pirinap – white person- for an advice, but not for them to touch your work, which … you don’t”; and “No one comes to tell me I can paint. … I created, I’m creating”.”

The NGA says they will ‘work closely with the artists and make programming decisions in due course.’

You can read the full independent review here.