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The NGV has received funding from the Bank of America to conserve a collection of important Western Desert artworks created during the 1970s and 1980s by the Papunya Tula and Lajamanu art communities. Acquired by the NGV in 1989, these works helped to form the foundation of the Gallery’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection. To care for these works, a holistic preservation strategy has been implemented by developing and undertaking treatment while prioritising the knowledge and values of the Lajamanu and Papunya communities. This includes ongoing discussions regarding the removal of surface dirt, which originated from Country and seeking guidance as to what state these works should be left to retain their intangible value.

Both collections are recognised for their use of repurposed materials, including hardboard wall panels, acrylics and house paints, while using traditional iconography and symbols to record their creation stories onto permanent works of art. This project is an opportunity to undertake technical analysis of the materials used in the creation of these works and implement conservation treatments to stabilise the collection for long-term preservation. Completing this project will not only ensure that both the original material and the intangible cultural value of these works are not lost, but also make certain that these works are more accessible and able to be displayed in exhibition and transported for wider viewing by Australian and international audience.