The inaugural school designed specifically for Indigenous artists took place from 3 - 24 July, 1999 at Northern Territory University in Darwin. The Indigenous National School was project managed by Indigenous artist, curator, writer, lecturer and consultant, Brenda L Croft (Gurindji). Although other annual ANAT Summer Schools have hosted Aboriginal participants, this was the first School that catered solely for Indigenous artists. Tutors proficient in new media and technology taught master classes during a three-week intensive period. Whilst the artists focused on the development of skills, the sharing of knowledge, and their own artwork, a key aspect of this project was that artists were also profoundly influenced by their surroundings.
The Top End hosts some of the most spectacular Indigenous rock art galleries and landscape in the country, for example, Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and Nitmuluk Gorge. The school provided a context for the participants to consider using technology to bring artistic perspectives to these locations, using the internet and other communications mechanisms to re-contextualise the surroundings of the school. The fourteen artists selected to participate in this project were:
Kathleen Arbon, Arabunna, lives Darwin, NT
Sandy Carter, Ngarrindjeri, lives Renmark, SA
Jason Davidson, Gurindji, lives Darwin, NT
Jenny Fraser, Bundjalung, lives Brisbane, Qld
Fiona Giles, Ngarrindjeri, lives Renmark, SA
Lindsay Haji Ali Yawuru, lives Broome, WA
Joanne Hamilton, Wiradjuri, lives Sydney, NSW
Gordon Hookey, Waanyi, lives Sydney, NSW
Clara Inkamala, Western Arrernte, lives Hermannsburg, NT
Keith Munro, Kamileroi, lives Sydney, NSW
Carol Panangka Rontji, Western Arrernte, lives Hermannsburg, NT
John Smith Gumbula, Wakka Wakka/ Gurang Gurang, lives Brisbane, Qld
Karl Telfer, Nurrangga/Kaurna, lives Adelaide, SA
Christian Bumbarra Thompson, Bidjara, lives Melbourne, VIC
The tutors for this inaugural project included a number of Indigenous artists. r e a (Gamileroi/ Wailwan), an internationally recognised artist who specialises in developing digital media, and who also participated in the 1999 ANAT National Summer School in Science and Art; Cameron Goold, a highly regarded artist and musician who runs Indiginet, an Aboriginal web design company were key tutors at the school.
For this initiative, ANAT also invited Skawennati Tricia Fragnito (Mohawk First Nations, Canada), an artist and curator who has developed web projects for Nation-to-Nation, a First Nations Artists collective, and has specialised in developing innovative multiuser online environments using Palace softwares. Trevor van Weeren from OANTM-NT Multimedia Centre also provided key technical support and tutelage. The three week project went extremely well, with all of the participants - participating artists, tutors and project staff alike - learning from each other as much as from the teaching aspects of the school.
Many people in the Indigenous and arts/cultural communities in Darwin warmly welcomed the participants, and ended up participating in many of the activities as well as looking after and entertaining the group throughout the three weeks.
The 1999 ANAT National Indigenous School was developed in partnership with the School of Fine Arts, Northern Territory University, Darwin, with enthusiastic support from Chris White.
Following on from this, ANAT initiated a series of residencies for participants in the Summer School to create websites (with support from the Emerging Artists program of the Visual Arts Craft Fund).
Jason Davidson (NT) at 24Hr Art, Darwin
Jason created a website based on stories and images from the Kimberley region.
Christian Bumbarra Thompson (Vic) at Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne.
The website will be based on a series of text-based works exploring knowledge, literature and the importance of theory for indigenous people and academics.