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Micador's Foundational Role in Australia's Indigenous Art Industry

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Micador's Foundational Role in Australia's Indigenous Art Industry

By Adam Knight

On my many visits to Alice Springs as a younger man I formed a valued friendship with Iris Harvey who owned and operated the Arunta Gallery and Book Shop. I used to vista her multiple times on every visit to the centre.

This business was for many years the primary art materials supply shop for the Alice Springs region.

In conversation one day many years later, as I explained that my friend Ben owned a business called Micador, her excitement became immediately evident. She then went on describe an impressive and extremely well dressed salesman who visited her gallery whom I was told Michael Dortimer!

Michael supplied Iris Artist Boards and other items including brushes which were then sold to Papunya and Hermannsburg and were the substrate for the artistic output of the start of the aboriginal art movement, including Albert Namatjira and the likes of Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra and Billy Stockman. These boards were often sold directly by Iris to Albert Namatjira and other significant artists.

The artists used both ends of the brushes for their dot paintings and often cut the bristles right down or off completely.

The boards and items were also provided to my hero, a school teacher named Geoffrey Bardon who is acknowledged as the founder of the Indigenous art movement, please see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Bardon

A movie was made on Geoffrey's journey: 'Mr Patterns'. A very well made and beautiful recount of my industry’s creation.

Iris Harvey was acknowledged for her contribution to the centre and aboriginal art with an installation in the Central Australian Women's Hall of Fame. See links below for more detail.

https://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/01/20/2797205.htm

https://wmoa.com.au/herstory2017/woman/harvey-iris-emily

https://aboriginalartandculture.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/papunya-tula-alice-springs/

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Note from Micador: To close out this wonderful historical loop, Micador’s updated FSC Canvas Boards packaging will feature the art from Gabriella Possum, Clifford's daughter.