Gestuelles – The art of transmission by Aboriginal desert women

Curated by IDAIA – International Development for Australian Indigenous Art, and supported by the Embassy of France in Australia, exhibition Gestuelles celebrates France’s role in the development and recognition of Australian Indigenous art, and the role of Aboriginal women artists. Originating from two historical Aboriginal art centres, Warlukurlangu Artists in Yuendumu (NT) and Warlayirti Artists in Balgo Hills (WA), the body of works explores women’s painting and their gestures relating to transmission, and reflects on their struggle between individually and collective pressures.

The strong, historical links between France and Aboriginal art offer a rich and fertile background – from the research and writing works of French ethnologists and anthropologists, their interventions in Aboriginal art communities, to the development of important public Aboriginal art collections in France and the exceptional Australian Indigenous Art Commission at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.

Gestuelles has successfully toured across Australia. It was first presented at the Alliance Française in Canberra, from 23 May to 15 June 2012, then was hosted by the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour from 20 June to 18 July 2012 as well as by the Alliance Française de Brisbane from 7 November to 8 December 2012. It was planned to resonate with the landmark exhibition to be hosted by the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris from 9 October 2012 to 20 January 2013: ‘Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art’ (‘Aux sources de la peinture Aborigène’).

The Melbourne exhibition is exceptional, gathering spectacular works by leading artists such as Elizabeth Nyumi with a monumental artwork, which was exhibited in ‘WaterMark – The Signature of Life‘ in Hong Kong in 2012 (exhibition curated by IDAIA), Judy Napangardi Watson and Dorothy Napangardi, as well as talented emerging artists.



Opening Night: Tue 16 April 2013 – Alliance Française de Melbourne – 6.30pm until 8.00pm

    • ‘Welcome to Country’ by Aunty Carolyn Briggs
    • Opening Speech, by The Hon. Michael Danby, Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts and Federal Member for Melbourne Ports
    • Opening Speech, by Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie, Honorary Consul General of Melbourne
    • Talk by Solenne Ducos-Lamotte, Director of IDAIA and Aboriginal art Expert.

Following day: Wed 17 April 2013 – Alliance Française de Melbourne

Public Tours including general introduction & floor talk focusing on some highlights of the exhibition:

  • 10.15am for 10.30 start in French – Free (1.30min)
  • 6.45pm for 7pm start in English – Free (1.30min)
    By Solenne Ducos-Lamotte, Director of IDAIA and Aboriginal Art Expert

To book a free public tour, click here

Liddy Napanangka Walker - Wakirlpirri Jukurrpa (Dogwood Tree Dreaming), 2009 - 183 x 122 cm - Acrylic on canvas

Liddy Napanangka Walker Wakirlpirri Jukurrpa (Dogwood Tree Dreaming), 2009 – 183 x 122 cm – Acrylic on canvas


The full colour, bilingual (English and French) publication includes documentation on the exhibited art centres and artists, and academic writings reflecting on the evolution of Aboriginal women’s gestures in acrylic painting, highlighting the interventions and achievements of French researchers in this field, as well as the presence of Yuendumu and Balgo artists and their works in France.

Available for sale at AUD 10 at the Alliance Française de Melbourne or upon request at 

For any further information or presentation kit, please contact:
Camille Pronzato, Communication Coordinator, IDAIA on 0404 165 071 or at:



All the individuals and organisations are warmily thanked for their participation in and contribution to this wonderful exhibition Gestuelles – The art of transmission by Aboriginal desert women.

Host Partner:

– Alliance Française de Melbourne

Publication Partners:

– Ambassade de France in Australia

– Air France

Associated Charities and Donation programs:

– The American Women’s Auxiliary to the Royal Children’s Hospital (AWA):  established over 80 years ago, the AWA notably provide support through fundraising and volunteer efforts.

– Public donations towards the acquisition of a painting for the Alliance Française de Melbourne’s public collection as a vessel to make culture accessible to all and promote ethical Aboriginal art (donations can be made at the Alliance’s reception).