In the Kaurna language of the Adelaide Plains, Tarnanthi means ‘to rise, come forth, spring up or appear’. It heralds the animation of new ideas and new beginnings … 
TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art runs from the 13th October to the 22nd October.  The first four days included in a series of performances, artist talks and the TARNANTHI Art Fair. Verso hit the streets of Adelaide to take part in as many events on the opening weekend as possible!
The opening night was a perfect spring evening. Hosted on the steps of the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) and overflowing onto the South Australian Museum’s (SAM) lawn, the launch of TARNANTHI was met with overwhelming numbers and enthusiasm. This is the second iteration of the festival celebrating and offering sustainable practices and opportunities for Indigenous artists. We arrived a little late, but nabbed ourselves a good vantage spot in front of the big screen broadcasting the event on the SAM lawns. The launch consisted of speakers from AGSA, the partners and supporters of the festival and Jay Weatherill (Arts Minister) as well a notable speech from Stan Grant.  There were also performances from Electric Fields and Kuren as the doors opened to TARNANTHI at AGSA and NGURRA: Home in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands as part of the festival at SAM. Both spaces were open until 9pm on the launch evening.
Two of our most prominent cultural institutions had gone out of their way to rearrange their spaces and embrace the festival. For example, SAM hosted a campfire on their front lawn, and AGSA launched their new look Studio space and gift shop which felt like a true continuation of the gallery spaces. The Studio space was particularly arresting with Ghost Nets, oceanic forms made from discarded fishing nets by Erub Arts.
We were first in line at the doors of SAM to see their exhibition. The enthusiasm for the event meant we were elbow to elbow with other visitors as we packed out the space. At AGSA we opted for the ‘quick look and come back later’ method, as overwhelming crowds made it difficult to fully appreciate what was on display.
On Friday the SAM offered audiences the opportunity to hear Glenn Iseger-Pilkington, Curator of NGURRA: Home in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands, talk about his experiences in researching and putting together this exhibition. Deeply passionate, Iseger-Pilkington, aimed to curate an exhibition which highlighted the changing relationship of the Ngaanyatjarra people and their ideas and construct of home. We learnt the title of the exhibition NGURRA roughly translates to home, and although it is a very complex meaning, this translation acts as a touchstone for audiences as they move throughout the exhibition. Isgur-Pilkington explained that the exhibition space was broken up into chronological sections. On entering the space one is met with ideas around ‘early days’ and is then guided through more contemporary versions of Ngurra. Attending this talk was enlightening, educational and an encouraging beginning to our weekend at TARNANTHI.
AGSA also had a series of panel discussions open to the public. Called panpa-panpalya,which roughly translates to ‘… gatherings held to exchange and share knowledge and ideas.’, these panel discussions marked the first of a series of talks available to the public throughout the duration of the festival. Diverse makers and practices were thoughtfully explored in the court yard of AGSA.
Verso also dropped into the TARNANTHI Art Fair, a unique inclusion of this festival, held at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. The Art Fair gave people the opportunity to purchase work from over 40 art centres and more than 200 artists from all across Australia, despite this being a South Australian event. We were struck by the myriad of different disciplines for sale. Not only did we see painting and basket weaving, but also dyed and printed fabric and clothes, jewellery, notebooks and leather goods all of which was displayed across three rooms on the ground floor. Although a rumoured 1200 people attended opening night (and large volume of sales), stalls were still overflowing with works such as un-stretched canvases laid out on the floor for buyers to sift through. The second story of the venue was reserved for donated works going to auction on the final day of this three day event. The proceeds from this auction will assist the Pukatja Dialysis Centre in Enabella, South Australia.
We dropped in to FELTspace on Sunday to see their latest show Peeneeyt Meerreeng / Before, Now, Tomorrow by Victorian artist Hayley Millar-Baker. TEXTclub allows for casual and critical discussion about a piece of text selected by one of the exhibiting artists. Millar-Baker’s chosen piece was 'Australian Aboriginal Art: It’s Still A White Thing’ by Claire E Hanlon. Further recommended reading was Richard Bell’s ‘Bell’s Theorem: Aboriginal Art - It’s a White Thing’.
ACE Open also hosted an artist talk in relation to their TARNANTHI exhibition Next Matriarch which featured seven First Nations women artists. Though the exhibition was a celebration of ‘sisterhood’, the artists didn’t like to label themselves as feminists, rather ‘sovereign female voices’ . The discussion was made richer by auto ethnographic accounts and personal histories of each of the panelists. The work in this exhibition, we found, to be particularly memorable and hard hitting for its dynamic contemporaneity and multi disciplinary works.
The TARNANTHI festival does a wonderful job of showcasing Indigenous artists. However, throughout the weekend we found ourselves celebrating the artists as just that excellent makers of contemporary art. As we walked the streets of Adelaide we found ourselves yearning for these artists to be further integrated into exhibition calendars year round.
 N. Cumpston, TARNANTHI, 2017, Adelaide, Newstyle Print, pg. 1
 These dates are for the city wide event. TARNANTHI At The GAllery will run from the 13th of October until the 28th of January 2018.
 N. Cumpston and N. Mitzevich, TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Guide, 2017.