Outdoor Gallery

A visual feast on the Northern Territory bucket list for the outback traveller

There is a new destination on the Northern Territory bucket list for this year’s outback traveller – a visual feast on the iconic Plenty Highway, north of Alice Springs; a part of Australia’s longest shortcut – the Outback Way.

It’s the Outdoor Gallery, Outback Way, a bold showcase of 28 artworks from regional and remote artists, featured on fourteen billboards over a 111-kilometre stretch.

Project manager Mel Forbes said the Outdoor Gallery was already creating excitement among the travelling public.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding to have locals, tourists and even truck drivers tell me they’ve been pulling over, and even reversing back to the billboards, so they could take photos and really soak in the artwork,” said Ms Forbes.

“One worker told me the Outdoor Gallery was the most original idea in the Territory since the Larapinta Trail in the eighties!”

The gallery’s starting point is around 130kms north-east of Alice Springs and finishes 111kms further towards the Queensland border. It was completed in 2021, a time when COVID-19 lockdowns delayed an official opening. COVID-19 also disrupted the tourist season two years running, which traditionally begins each year with the dry in March.

For Mel and the artists, 2023 is a year to finally celebrate.

“We are so excited to welcome the annual outback pilgrimage back to the Northern Territory.

“The rains have worked their own creative magic, painting the countryside green and really showing the gallery at its best.”

The Outdoor Gallery, Outback Way is a first for Australia and uses the semiarid scrublands as a backdrop for the supersized artworks. The 27 artists featured are from the Northern Territory, Queensland, and West Australia, and all are intimately connected with the country.

“The majority of the artists have been born and raised on large outback properties or have long family traditions associated with particular areas that they were raised in,” said Ms Forbes.

“They’re all deeply affected and inspired by the landscape that surrounds them and connection to the cycles of the country on which they live.”

The artistic styles include photography, painting and sculpture.

Nineteen of the 27 artists are Indigenous and include Aunty Joy Turner from the Engawala community. Her billboard, #5, is located opposite the general store in Engawala near the newly refurbished art centre.

If you wish to visit the Engawala Art Centre Aboriginal Corporation, please contact the Centre Manager Janine Tilmouth T: 0475 417 473 between 10am – 2pm Monday to Friday

“To me this project is an art piece in itself,” said Ms Forbes.

“It is an artwork that has the exciting and wonderful palette of many artists.”

For those who can’t wait until the Dry, all the works are available to view at https://outbackway.gallery Limited edition prints are also available to purchase with the majority of proceeds going to the artists.

The OHDC Inc thanks the

Australian Government & FRRR for Funding this project