Ernabella Art Centre

Ernabella Arts
AnanguKu Arts
Architectural, Interiors
Ernabella Arts Inc

Brief: Upgrade works to Ernabella Art centre in the remote Central Desert region of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY), South Australia, including gallery, administration, kitchen and painting studio refurbishments. This work forms part of an ongoing project to upgrade other remote desert art facilities across the region for current and future generations of Aboriginal artists.

Challenges: The remote art centres need to withstand extreme weather conditions and intensive daily use by all artists and users. Dust and highly corrosive bore water is also harsh on the buildings. Art centre buildings in these remote communities provide essential services for marginalised people, often elders with mobility issues, that extend beyond a place to paint. They are heavily used buildings that provide the community with a place to gather, pass on traditional knowledge between generations, income generation opportunities, food services, and much more. The heavy year-round use requires the architecture and all upgrade and maintenance work to be robust and hardwearing, as well as sympathetic to the rugged natural landscape.

Solutions:  The primary focus of repair and maintenance works was to ensure the roof was watertight and the building fit for the extreme seasonal weather conditions. Internal joinery was designed to be hardworking and long lasting. Storage drawers were sized to accommodate a mix of large format media from large rolls of canvas to unique pottery and other medium. The joinery throughout was made from compact laminate, ensuring it is long lasting and can withstand intensive use, while resisting vermin and termites. All joinery was raised off of the ground to allow thorough cleaning and to discourage rodents from hiding and accessing the secure pantry store.

Highlights: Travelling to the APY Lands, meeting the artists and art centre users, and being able to help keep the art centres maintained and fit for purpose.

What the clients had to say

Ernabella Arts is Australia’s oldest, continuously running art centre. Our artists have many years of experience leading and communicating their desires. Travelling to a remote community takes time and effort. Adriano Pupilli Architects understood the essential need to come to Ernabella to carry out a collaborative design workshop with artists and art centre staff. The team listened and were receptive to the art centres ideas for our space, future growth and aspirations. The end result yielded a design that responded to Ernabella Arts requirements as well as integrating clever and thoughtful design considerations previously not envisaged. Now these designs have been realised. Our spaces are bursting with light, functionality and beauty. Upon entering our art centre, all levels of community including our artists, staff and visitors to the centre are met with feelings of creativity and vibrancy.