Desert Mob launches exciting online program and exhibition in 2020

Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture

The Araluen Arts Centre, in partnership with Desart, presents Desert Mob 2020, one of the nation’s most anticipated Aboriginal art and cultural events, featuring a major exhibition, symposium and art market.

Desert Mob is the desert-art epicentre, bringing artists, artwork and projects together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs), the heart of the country, to proudly celebrate and reinforce their culture.

“Desert Mob started in 1991 and each year presents new artworks and art projects by emerging and established Aboriginal artists,” Director of Araluen Arts Centre, Felicity Green said.

Desert Mob 2020 will present 169 new artworks by 177 artists from 29 Desart-member art centres located across the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. The exhibition is unique amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander exhibitions, with artists and their art centres selecting the artworks to be exhibited, rather than through a pre-selection process.

In 2020, Desert Mob’s role in supporting and providing a platform for desert artists is amplified as other events and exhibitions are cancelled, postponed or reconfigured.

For the first time in the event’s history, the Desert Mob exhibition will launch online at 9am Friday 11 September on the Araluen website:, ahead of its physical opening.

The Araluen Arts Centre will then open to the general public from 1pm on Friday 11 September until Sunday 25 October through a free ticketed entry procedure. To stay COVID-Safe, limited numbers and time allocations are in place. Bookings are essential and can be made by visiting the Araluen website.

“This year’s event, in response to COVID-19 and with many regular attendees unable to travel, will move into an exciting expanded online experience.” Felicity said.

“All the artworks in this year’s exhibition will be available for sale online and in the galleries, and collectors can purchase in the knowledge that money from sales goes back to artists, their art centres and communities.”

All art centres in Desert Mob are community-based enterprises, owned and managed by Aboriginal people in their communities, providing economic, social and cultural benefits.

The Desert Mob Symposium will also launch online with a series of films across the week from Friday 4 September until Friday 11 September at the Desart website: The Symposium will provide rich insights and explores desert artist’s contemporary concerns through art that is grounded in deep cultural knowledge.

The Desert Mob Symposium is a unique platform in the Aboriginal art and culture landscape and presents 11 films, featuring five art centres and the Desart Photography Prize.

The participating art centres in this year’s Symposium include Ikuntji Artists, Hermannsburg Potters, Papunya Tjupi Art, Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre and Nyinkka Nyunyu Art & Culture Centre.

The Desert Mob MarketPlace will also move online for the first time on the Desart website. The MarketPlace will run from Saturday 12 September to Saturday 19 September with 32 art centres offering high quality artworks for sale. The online MarketPlace will be refreshed daily with new works being added each day.

“Desert Mob 2020 is a statement of the resilience of Aboriginal artists and their communities, in the face of the challenges and vulnerabilities facing them in COVID-19 times,” Felicity said.

/Public Release. View in full here.