(above: Ninbella gallery represents the best of Australian Aboriginal art, including work from Senior Elder Lore Woman, Custodian of the Dreamings of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Attila, Ms Nelly Napananga Patterson, top right).
Today, the indigenous art scene is big business but there are some gallerists and curators prioritising the rights of the artists they represent as the most important element of their business plans. Placing such ethics front and centre of his art business is Grant Rasheed, Director of Ninbella gallery. (below, left).
Grant has been working with Australian Central Desert Aboriginal Art, Artists and Communities for well over ten years. Ninbella was originally based in remote outback South Australia which is where Grant grew up near the Flinders Ranges.
Grant established Ninbella gallery in January 2011.
The word "Ninbella" is a central Australian Aboriginal word, with “beautiful” being the closest meaning in English. Actually, 3,000 Aboriginal words were found an English language equivalent in the 1920s by a keen linguist and anthropologist. Linguistics fans will note that the full list of these words is in a compendium in the South Australian Museum. Becoming synonymous with high quality indigenous art, Ninbella has been exhibiting stunning original works internationally in Italy (on an annual basis since 2011) and in China (since 2012),
showcasing dynamic Utopian, Western Desert and Oceanic Art and Artefacts.
(above: By Cedric Varcoe)
Celebrating the Aboriginal art world is at the centre of Ninbella's day to day experience, exploding with colour and creativity to include a gamma of ethically sourced products helping bring a steadier stream of income directly to the artists and their communities.
The new Ninbella space, in a beautifully restored 110-year- old building in the main street of historic Bangalow NSW, presents fine contemporary art from the Central Desert of Australia, the Yuendumu Community, hand woven products from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, floor rugs, wall hangings, cushion covers, papier mache products, elegant leatherware and colourful ceramics, all through a sustainable cross-cultural project initiated by Better World Arts. This initiative involves artisans in Kashmir, India and
Peru. Every sale recognises a royalty on every product, in perpetuity, to the Australian Aboriginal artists.
Ninbella has established a sterling reputation as an ethical and fair trader, being a member of The Fair-Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, so with that in mind, the takings from each sale go directly to the local artists.
Being able to present local Australian Aboriginal artists to quality art collectors from around the globe is Grant Rasheed's passion. Alongside Grant's enviable Rolodex collated after years of international travel, what attracts overseas and local art collectors is that they can be assured that each piece has genuinely been created by local artists using traditional skills and techniques.
One of the gallery's most popular artists is Senior Elder, Artist and Lore Woman, Nelly Napananga Patterson. Alongside being a respected painter, Nelly is officially the Custodian of the Dreamings of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Attila. Amongst the oldest and most respected artists of her genre, Ms Napananga Patterson speaks several languages and works as a cultural leader and full time artist in Australia.
(below: Success. Ms Nelly Napananga Patterson, surrounded by loved ones and art fans on the opening night of her paintings exhibition at Ninbella gallery, in February 2018).
In this video, (below), Nelly talks about her creative process in terms of creating large-scale paintings:
Nelly also reflects on her background growing up in the bush and her views on wellness including children's nutrition. Speaking about not only her creative process but also her viewpoint that choosing to raise children in the bush, away from the influences of the West (including processed foods) and the fact that sugar is basically a toxin for children, is something she feels passionately about. The importance of following one's own destiny instead of relying on others or being influenced by negativity is also key to Nelly's philosophy
of life. (below: Nelly appearing at the opening night of her exhibition, with traditional clapping sticks).
Focusing on developing authentic and harmonious relationships with his artists, Grant Rasheed tells Goldrush, "Nelly and I speak on the phone most days," and this is key to his being able to represent her art in a way that is in keeping with the lore Nelly hands down to younger generations.
Visit the team online at Ninbella.com or pop in to the gallery in person if you happen to travel to the gorgeous city of Bangalow, NSW, Australia.“We acknowledge the traditional owners of the country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to them and their cultures and to the elders, past, present and future."
(below: Paintings by Nelly Napananga Patterson are highly sought after, including this spectacular piece entitled, "Seven Sisters Walking Dreaming.")