The Utopia Giftware range has been created by Mbantua Gallery in conjunction with the artists of Utopia. On the 1st June 1992 Mbantua Gallery first opened its doors at 71 Gregory Terrace, right in the heart of Alice Springs. Today it is arguably the largest privately owned aboriginal art gallery in the world.
The Gallery began as an offshoot of Mbantua Store, a small general store situated at 55 Gap Road in Alice Springs. Established by the Finke River Mission way back in the 1950s Mbantua Store still caters for traditional Aboriginal people and has done so since well before any of the major supermarket chains ever came to town. It is now part of Alice Springs history.
Mbantua Store also had a small Aboriginal Art section for many years and so Mbantua Gallery was created. The close affiliation it had with traditional Aboriginal people, the long history of dealing in Aboriginal Art, and the increased demand for and production of art, made it a forgone conclusion that Mbantua Gallery was destined to evolve.
Specialising in art of the Utopia Region, north east of Alice Springs, from an early stage, Mbantua played a key role in the history and evolution of Utopia art. The emergence of the Utopia artists is considered to be the largest art movement in the world. Many renowned Australian artists come from this region including Barbara Weir, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Minnie Pwerle and Gloria Petyarre. The first Leaves painting by Gloria Petyarre belongs in the Mbantua Cultural Museum as well as one of the earliest known Emily Kame Kngwarreye paintings.
Traditional Aboriginal life is lived in the Utopia Region. The native languages, mainly Alyawarr or Anmatyerre, are the first spoken, with English a second, third or fourth language or sometimes not spoken at all. Traditional ceremonies, hunting and business are still carried out, kadaicha men (tribal assassins) exist, and sacred sites are maintained. The Utopia art is known widely for its vibrant colours and contemporary appeal, yet in knowing its origin, the art of Utopia becomes even more intriguing.
In 2007 we started creating some of this wonderful giftware and over the past 4 years the range has continued to expand. In the next 12 months we hope to provide you with even more options for that unique gift as we have some new products currently in development stages.
Royalties from these products are directed to the artists, as well as the Mbantua Foundation. So you can rest assure, when you purchase one of these products the artists will benefit directly as a result.
If you would like to know more about us, please do not hesitate to give us a call.