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How Darwin’s Coolest New Art Gallery Is Championing Indigenous Stories

Nina Fitzgerald is a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman, whose family hails from the Limilngan-Wulna people of the NT, Mualgal in the Torres Strait, and Wuthati, of the Cape York peninsula. Growing up in Darwin, she was surrounded by art and the stories of remote Indigenous Australia – and realised the power art held to ‘breaking down’ cultural barriers.

‘[Creativity] is a way so many people can be involved in the continuity of the oldest living cultures on earth, and build an Australia that’s more inclusive, and proud of its rich history,’ Nina says. ‘And Laundry Gallery is an exciting and fun means to continue to share the stories of Indigenous Australia.’

Nina and her co-founder Laura Shellie came up with the idea for the new space on Larrakia Land over many conversations in the café next door to the (then-derelict) and nostalgic ’70s laundromat, which Nina has loved and visited since she was a kid. They both felt there was a lack of contemporary galleries in Darwin that could help connect Indigenous art with a younger audience in an engaging, accessible way.

‘The more we chatted the more it clicked,’ she added. ‘The laundromat was the perfect analogy for spinning stories, and from there, our ideas for the space kept flowing!’

They revamped the entire space, gutted the inside, repainted, and polished the concrete – ‘which by accident now remains an amazing red colour’ – and restored the gorgeous original window and door frames. Located right by the famous Parap Markets, it’s been the perfect destination for locals and visitors alike to engage with Indigenous art since their first sold-out exhibition last year.

In addition to hosting regular exhibitions, Laundry Gallery has recently launched an online store, featuring everything from paintings to sculptural fish traps, woven baskets, and endearing bird carvings. And their upcoming showcase, ‘Bawaliba Homeland’ by Lucy Yarawanga opens this weekend!

‘Lucy Yarawanga’s bold and fun depictions of her mother’s ancestral story [are all] about the Bawaliba spirits! Completely unique, with so much character, these are some of the funnest works on paper coming out of the Northern Territory right now,’ Nina says.

Laundry Gallery also hosts workshops, lead by the exhibiting artists as a way to share their own story in their own words, with all ticket sales going directly to the artists.

‘[Our] contemporary and ever-changing art space is testament to our resilience as peoples,’ Nina explains. ‘And showcasing it is all part of meaningful reconciliation and agency for First Nations Australians.’

See ‘Bawaliba Homeland’ at Laundry Gallery from February 11.
Download the catalogue here.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net