The Yuendumu Doors, on permanent display in the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery from 7 October 2011, represent one of the earliest examples of Aboriginal artists successfully transferring their ancient ground paintings to a large-scale, modern medium.
The Yuendumu Doors were created in 1983 by senior Warlpiri men, including Paddy Japaljarri Stewart and Paddy Japaljarri Sims, who took the historic opportunity to paint their sacred Dreaming designs onto the doors of the remote Yuendumu school, 250km north-west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. It was a key moment in the history of Australian art and it symbolised the Warlpiris decision to explain the Tjukurrpa (Dreaming) to the world beyond their desert home. There are 30 original Doors.
Ten Doors will now be on permanent display, and an additional five on temporary display until January. These unique objects of history and culture not only reveal ancient stories and beliefs, but also the graffiti and scars of exposure to the elements and the schoolyard.
The Doors were entrusted to the South Australian Museum
in 1995 under then Director Dr Chris Anderson, as a result of the Museums extensive history of fieldwork and collaboration with the region. In advance of their return to public display the Doors have been re-documented and conserved by Artlab Australia. In addition, the Museum has also acquired a 2001 set of the Northern Editions limited edition Yuendumu Etchings which were created by the surviving artists nearly 20 years after the Doors were painted. The Doors and the etchings will be on display together for the first time.
Professor Suzanne Miller, Director of the South Australian Museum said: Returning the Yuendumu Doors to public display is part of the Museums fundamental commitment to making its vast and nationally significant collections available as a source of inspiration and education for all Australians.