Ngukurr, 'a place of many stones' is an Aboriginal community of about 800 people from nine different language groups, many of whom are displaced from their ancestral countries.
The community, located on the Roper River in Southeast Arnhem Land, grew out of the Roper River mission. It was established in 1908 by the Church Missionary Society, as a refuge for Aboriginal people who had been subjected to policies of dispersion, aggression and extermination by munaga (non-Aboriginal) pastoralists, officials and police.
A vibrant artistic community
Ngukurr has been administered since 1968 by an Aboriginal council of elders and landowners. It has gradually emerged as a vibrant community with its own dynamic art style, reflective of the artists' different histories and groundings in culture.
The first canvases from Ngukurr date back to March 1987 when Sydney artist John Nelson was employed by the Northern Territory Education Department to set up a painting course in the community. In September of that year Ngukurr art was exhibited in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award to great acclaim and the following year the first group exhibition of Ngukurr art was held in Melbourne.