Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 30.04.09
Author: Gabriella Coslovich
News source: The Age
More controversy surrounding John Ioannou from Gabriella Coslovich in The Age:
During Easter, art dealer John Ioannou, who owns Agathon Galleries in Melbourne and Sydney, arranged for two senior Aboriginal artists to be moved from their remote desert community in South Australia and had them taken to his Alice Springs home.
The artists' families were upset that they were not consulted about the move of their frail and elderly relatives. The artists — Tiger Palpatja, an 89-year-old man who is beginning to show signs of dementia, and Ruby Williamson, 69 — paint with the Tjala Arts Centre in their country, Amata, in South Australia.
Both artists have submitted works for this year's $40,000 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Last year 14 artists pulled out of the awards because of ethical concerns about the inclusion of artwork from Irrunytju, a Western Desert centre Mr Ioannou works with as an adviser.
On Easter Sunday, when the Tjala Arts centre was closed, two vehicles entered the Amata community and picked up Palpatja and Williamson for the 5½-hour drive to Alice Springs, where they stayed at Mr Ioannou's house. John Doherty, the lawyer engaged by Palpatja's family, contacted police, who visited the house but decided not to remove the artists.
The two artists' families were deeply distressed and eventually persuaded them to return home. An Amata community member took Palpatja home on Saturday, while Williamson's son took her home on Sunday.
Gallery: Agathon Gallery Sydney