I was very disappointed with my visit to Tandanya Aboriginal Arts Centre.

In that review I mentioned three redeeming features of Tandanya and one of these was the existence of some artwork on the pavement outside the centre which I feel is worthy a look and is thus the subject of this review.

Tandanya is the Kaurna (local Aboriginal people) word for ‘place of the Red Kangaroo’ and right outside the centre door is a depiction of a red kangaroo, in a distinctive Aboriginal dot painting style, etched into the pavement.

Tandanya or Tarndanyangga (“red kangaroo place”) is the Kaurna name for Adelaide and derives from an Aboriginal Dreaming story which, if I may, I will relate to you now.

One winter a couple built a shelter on the banks of the Torrens River. One day as the wife, who had lost all her children, was weeping a mist cloud came down the river towards her. It was a beautiful grey colour lit up by gold lights.

When the cloud departed the woman looked in her bag and found, snuggled therein, a baby boy which the couple called Tarnda. Tarnda turned out a great hunter and in old age was transformed into an old kangaroo man, greatly admired by all the Kaurna people of the area.

When Tarnda died he threw a load of spears into the sky to form a ladder which he ascended. Henceforth the Kaurna called the place when Tarnda lived, Tarndanyangga (Tandanya) – red kangaroo place.

European settlers subsequently called their new city by the Torrens, Adelaide, in honour of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, queen consort to King William IV.

Along side the red kangaroo is a large ground mural entitled River Spirit Dreaming (by Bluey Roberts, 1989). This is a series of traditional Aboriginal etchings – of the type often seen in cave paintings around the country – held together by a rainbow serpent which unfortunately I didn’t get a decent photograph off. Photos 2-5 below are of a number of etchings within the mural.

The rainbow serpent (running along the bottom of each of my pictures) represents the rivers and creeks (and thus life) in South Australia. The tortoise, goanna (not pictured), and fish represent food and the symbols of people represent the men, women and children who lived and hunted here in the past.

Don’t forget to look down at the pavement should you visit Tandanya or be passing by.

Address: 253 Grenfell Street

For my next Adelaide – CITY EAST review click HERE.
For other Adelaide reviews click HERE.


One thought on “Tandanya – Street Art

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