Your free what's on guide to the NT

Dip into Desert Mob

Experience Central Australia in all its glory at Desert Mob, the unmissable art event of the year.

By Betty Sweetlove

Back for its 32nd year, Desert Mob is a monumental celebration of desert culture in the heart of Australia. A pivotal gathering of artists, families, art-lovers and collectors, this year’s program brings together 34 Aboriginal Art Centres spanning 16 language groups from across Central Australia.

Awash with vibrant visual culture and multi-talented artists, the program is co-curated by renowned curator Hetti Perkins (Arrernte and Kalkadoon) and Aspen Beattie (Luritja, Warumungu and Yawuru) at DesArt. 

“It’s always been a dream to return home and Desert Mob is giving me this wonderful opportunity to be able to live and work back home,” says Perkins, who came on board as curator in 2022.

“It’s a chance to see and experience the diversity of desert culture coming together at one of the oldest art events in Australia, in terms of Aboriginal art, and something that people look forward to every year.”

Overflowing with events, Desert Mob includes the world-class exhibition and art market, after-dark events, workshops and demonstrations. Whether you’re an avid collector or just want to eat delicious damper and wander through the market, it’s an art extravaganza like no other. 

“It has to be experienced firsthand. It’s one of those rare events where there’s artists and families and everyone all coming together to celebrate, so it really does have that atmosphere,” Perkins says.

Returning for the first time since 2019 is the Desert Mob Symposium. A kaleidoscope of culture and talent, audiences are treated to short films, dance, panel discussions, and two debut runway collections of wearable art. This all-day event is a unique opportunity to hear from emerging and established artists from many different Art Centres.

“They’re all autonomous Art Centres doing amazing things in their communities, and we want to tell those bigger stories too,” Perkins says. 

“Yes, they’re making work for people to enjoy in their homes, their collections and our major institutions, but it’s also about being able to experience the different types of storytelling. That’s a really important part of Desert Mob.” 

Visitors can dip in and out of a generous palette of free and ticketed events running through to October. Learn from acclaimed Yarrenyty Arltere Artists at their soft sculpture workshop or drop into a live demonstration celebrating 20 years of ceramic making at Ernabella Arts. 

Brand-new this year, the gallery doors open for two balmy summer nights at Desert Mob After Dark. Enjoy curator talks and musical performances over delicious food and a glass of wine.

With a stunning new website designed by Jenna Lee, the excitement, innovation and energy of Desert Mob is bursting. Don’t miss your chance to embrace the enduring culture of the desert.


Desert Mob
WHEN THU 7 SEP – SUN 22 OCT 

Desert Mob Symposium
WHEN FRI 8 SEP | 10AM-3.30PM
COST $25
AT ARALUEN ARTS CENTRE
INFO desertmob.com

Thumbnail: Nancy Nyanjilpayi Chapman with her painting 'Jarntinti' for Desert Mob 2023. Photo: Sarah Brooke. Courtesy of the artist and Martumili Artists
Header: Jimmy Frank, Norman Frank and Joseph Williams. Desert Mob 2021 Opening. Photo: Emma Murray. Courtesy Araluen Arts Centre

Inset: Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir. Desert Mob 2022 Opening. Photo: Oliver Eclipse. Courtesy of Desart

Share this