RAFT respectfully acknowledges the Arrernte people and Country on which it operates. We pay our deepest respect to all First Nations people, cultures and lands here in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and across Australia.
Always in solidarity.
RAFT is nationally and internationally renowned for its unique style and carefully considered exhibitions. Since its inception, the gallery has set an agenda promoting community interest in the region and provoking an extensive critical discourse.
Founded in Darwin in 2001 by Dallas Gold, RAFT presented more than 150 exhibitions in its Top End gallery, before relocating in 2010 to Alice Springs. Throughout its history RAFT has collaborated with many galleries, creating interstate projects such as RAFT south in Hobart from 2016-2017.
For Director, Dallas Gold —
"there is a whole other territory, where it becomes a dialogue, a celebration of difference in the work".
RAFT is a commercial gallery with a focus on presenting contemporary art from Central and Northern Australia. Its program includes both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, celebrating difference, respecting culture and presenting a program of integrity and dynamism. All exhibitions are informed by cultural awareness and social responsibility, with a commitment to best practice.
Locates Contemporary art from the region in which it was made
Works directly with Aboriginal-Owned Art Centres
Respects Indigenous art as vital Contemporary Art and values its importance as a movement in art in itself
Exhibits and represents local, Northern and Central Australian art
Responds to dialogue between contemporary artists, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous
Presents solo and group exhibitions, curates project shows, promotes artists and develops audiences for their work
THE FAIRWEATHER STORY
RAFT is named in honour of the Australian artist, Ian Fairweather, who arrived in Darwin fifty years ago, and lived in an abandoned hulk at Dinah Beach on Frances Bay where the gallery was first located. The Scottish born artist was sixty when he hitchhiked from Townsville after years of wandering in Europe, Asia and North Queensland. Desperate about the loss of a consignment of his paintings he had sent from London back to Sydney, destitute and distressed he conceived the suicidal plan to sail from Darwin to Portuguese Timor.
Fairweather built his LIT-BATEAU from materials he scavenged from the detritus of post-war Darwin. The ten foot triangular shaped raft had floats made form belly carriers – torpedo shaped aluminium aircraft fuel tanks, the planks were driftwood and washed up timber decking, a bush timber pole made the mast, the square sails were made from parachute silk and the stays were clothesline wire. His provisions were some tinned food, eight gallons of water, a blanket and a change of clothes. To navigate he had a thirty shilling compass and a rudder that proved unworkable. The raft had a freeboard of less than six inches and was too small for him to stand up.
After a couple of unsuccessful attempts Fairweather finally launched himself off at Bullocky Point on a king tide heading into the SE Trades on April 29, 1952.
Constantly drenched and forced to lie on the raft his feet lashed to the mast to stop himself falling overboard, he drifted and drifted. By the third day out, his obituaries were being published in the Australian press. By the fourth day he had begun to hallucinate and in his minds eye painted his best paintings.
"The sea was quite black and the haze took on the appearance of a mosquito net handing down all over the raft through which the stars would move and jump about as the boat rocked, but always the net remained stationary. I could not understand this. On the net I could see lines, drawings of figures behind which danced other figures. I lay and contemplated these for they were better than any drawings I had ever made on land"
Blown off course he missed Timor and was almost swept into the Indian Ocean but on the sixteenth day he washed up on a reef outside Roti. Imprisoned by the Indonesians, he was eventually repatriated to London by the British Consul. In 1953 he returned to Australia and lived on Bribie Island where he painted until his death in 1974. It was in this last period he produced his major works.
ITERATIONS OF RAFT
Over its long history, RAFT has presented over two hundred exhibitions and been a vessel on the move; with a number of iterations, location changes and temporary manifestations - indicated directionally...
RAFT commenced in 2001 in Darwin, first in Frances Bay, then in Parap from 2002. In 2003 a second gallery Raft II opened. Both were located in the Parap arts precinct close to the famous Saturday morning market and 24Hr Art, the NT Centre for Contemporary art and Nomad Art. Outstation Gallery now occupies the original Raft site.
RAFT travelled to Redfern, Sydney, exhibiting at Grant Pirrie Gallery over the summer of 2003 & 2005, and to the Melbourne Art Fair in 2004, 2008 and 2010; also exhibiting in the Melbourne CBD at Silvershot Gallery in 2006 and 2007.
RAFT relocated to its current premises at Hele Cres, Alice Springs in 2010. Soon after, framers and art suppliers Chapman & Bailey opened a Centralian branch next door, cementing the Hele arts precinct.
RAFT expanded to Hobart with a short term visit to coincide with the Monafoma festival in the summer of 2015-2016. RAFT south was establish in the Core Collective Architects' studio space above Franklin Restaurant, in the heart of Hobart's burgeoning inner-city cultural hub. It continued for over a year, presenting 13 shows in Hobart whilst continuing to operate the Central gallery in Alice Springs.
RAFT DIRECTOR, DALLAS GOLD
Dallas Gold was born in Sydney in 1956. In the 1980s he lived in Newcastle where he earned a reputation for good food and innovative menus as a chef and caterer at various new-style cafes/restaurants. His epiphany came in 1991 when a catering client, a painting lecturer at Newcastle University, suggested he enrol in the Visual Arts course. He did and continued his studies at Charles Darwin University when he moved to Darwin.
In 1993 he held his first solo painting exhibition, Cornucopia, at Lindsay Street Café/Gallery in Darwin. Over the decade, he practiced as a visual artist making work for several exhibitions, undertaking commissions and working as a printmaker and framer.
In 2001 he opened a gallery, RAFT artspace, initially in association with fellow artist, friend and mentor, Peter Adsett. The gallery’s name honours the legacy of the Australian painter, Ian Fairweather, and alludes to his epic raft journey from Darwin to Indonesia.
With 20 years of experience under his wing, Dallas Gold has extensive knowledge of the sector. His expertise lies in the fields of Indigenous art, the national and international art market, Central and Northern Australian art, exhibition curation and collecting, amongst others. With this, Dallas is well informed to provide consultation services to individuals and businesses including - but not limited to - the following areas.
ADVICE FOR COLLECTORS
Advice to prospective and continuing collectors on current issues and assistance navigating the Indigenous art world
Collection advice and management to private and corporate clients
ADVICE FOR GALLERISTS
Dealing in art through the stockroom
Valuing art and collections