Installation of Standing on Country by Peggy Griffiths-Madij, Tarnanthi 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Installation, Standing on Country, Peggy Griffiths-Madij, Tarnanthi 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; photo: Artlab Australia

Artlab conservators have the great privilege of supporting the South Australian Museum in caring for the largest and most comprehensive collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural material in the world.

We also care for the Art Gallery of South Australia’s collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art works and annually assist with condition checking, display mounting and installation for Tarnanthi, the Art Gallery’s acclaimed exhibitions of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

Our practice of working with these significant objects deepens our conservators’ experience and expertise in storage, transportation, display and stabilisation of both old and new indigenous art and culture.

Objects such as toas, bark paintings, sculpture and baskets are often fragile, with delicate elements such as powdery or flaky ochres, and are highly sensitive to environmental changes. Specialised expertise and a respectful approach to the treatment of these culturally significant objects is an essential consideration in our conservation process.

Conservation treatments are documented in detail to track changes over time and records are stored in a secure records management system.

Our conservators ensure their knowledge in cultural and technological objects is strengthened by connecting with related organisations and participating in collaborative research.

Private galleries and owners of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts benefit from the expertise of our conservators who regularly work with world renowned institutional collections. We collaborate with Indigenous artists locally and in remote communities, developing an exchange of knowledge and respect.

At times we have the honour of assisting with sensitive repatriation, both privately and in the museum environment.