About Tarnanthi

TARNANTHI presents contemporary art of the world’s oldest living culture on an unprecedented scale, in a national event held annually by the Art Gallery of South Australia.

The name, pronounced tar-nan-dee, comes from the language of the Kaurna people, the traditional owners of the Adelaide Plains. It means to come forth or appear – like the sun and the first emergence of light. For many cultures, first light signifies new beginnings.

TARNANTHI is a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across the country to share important stories. Its artistic vision encourages new beginnings by providing artists with opportunities to create significant new work and to extend their practice.

It illuminates the diversity and depth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art by alternately staging an expansive city-wide festival in one year then a focus exhibition the following year. This year’s feature artist is master bark painter John Mawurndjul. TARNANTHI also includes an annual Art Fair, artist talks, performances and events.

2019 Key Dates

TARNANTHI at the Gallery

18 October 2019 – 27 January 2020


18 – 20 October 2019

TARNANTHI City-Wide Festival

18 – 27 October 2019


Art Gallery of South Australia Kaurna yartangka yuwanthi. Ngadlu Kaurna miyurna parna yaitya mathanya Wama Tarntanyaku tampinthi. Ngadlu yaitya mathanya kumarta yartanangku Tidna Wirltunangku, warrunangku kuma tampinthi.

Art Gallery of South Australia stands on Kaurna land. We recognise Kaurna people as the custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We also recognise the Indigenous custodians from other parts of Australia and from overseas.

Artistic Director Nici Cumpston

TARNANTHI is led by Artistic Director Nici Cumpston, the Art Gallery of South Australia’s Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. Of Afghan, English, Irish and Barkindji heritage, Nici is a descendant of the Darling River people of northern NSW and is culturally affiliated with the River Murray people in South Australia. Her career has been characterised by working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to bring new work and new ways of seeing to wider audiences.

Principal Partner BHP

Perspective is an important element in art. Whether it’s the way artists frame their subject or how they express their worldview, it shapes how viewers see and understand.

TARNANTHI’s viewpoint matches ours at BHP. TARNANTHI celebrates cultural diversity, it establishes meaningful and long-term relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and art centres, and it gives back to the communities it touches, both with economic benefits and by fostering cultural strength and pride. Through this respectful approach, it supports artists and their communities and helps audiences to appreciate the variety and vigour of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture.

This is why BHP is delighted to partner with TARNANTHI. As a global resource company, we seek to build strong, considerate and enduring relationships with the traditional owners connected to the many lands where we operate around the world. Our support for TARNANTHI is one way through which we give back, strengthening understanding, respect and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.

The South Australian Government and the Art Gallery of South Australia are dedicated partners in this collaboration to present TARNANTHI. Together we can be proud that this inspiring celebration of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, with its diversity of cultural perspectives, is a rewarding experience for communities and audiences alike.

Laura Tyler
Asset President
BHP Olympic Dam

Premier's Message

TARNANTHI is a superb event that reaches well beyond its location in South Australia – embracing artists from across the nation, with creativity of global appeal.

In just a few short years, TARNANTHI has established itself as a national leader in showcasing contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art of the highest standard. It can present Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art both on the sweeping canvas of a vast festival and in the intricate artistry of a singular item.

TARNANTHI also maintains a deep commitment to benefiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by nurturing art. With the generous assistance of BHP, it works directly with artists, art centres and communities to support artists as they create and present bold new works. It establishes long-term relationships with artists as they develop projects – such as this year’s focus exhibition, more than three years in the making – which otherwise might never be achievable. In this way, artists, communities and art lovers are all beneficiaries.

My Government and I are proud to support TARNANTHI, an innovative and collaborative event that each year connects distinctive local creativity to a wider audience.

Hon. Steven Marshall MP
Premier of South Australia


Principal Partner


Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art

Art Gallery of South Australia
North Terrace Adelaide,
SA 5000

General enquiries
Phone: +61 8 8207 7000
Email: tarnanthi@artgallery.sa.gov.au