While the industry celebrates First Nations culture in the lead up to Australian Fashion Week, a remote Northern Territory art centre has kept the work of one Indigenous artist alive to grace the cover of its foremost magazine.

The front of Vogue Australia’s May edition features four Indigenous models wearing a host of First Nations designs, including the late Alice Nampitjinpa Dixon’s print Tali Tali donned by Elaine George.

It is a milestone for First Nations people in the industry, making a point of nodding to a piece of its history.

Ms George became the first Aboriginal woman on the cover of Vogue almost 30 years ago. Wearing Ms Dixon’s work provides a look even further back.

“Tali Tali (the design) was my mum’s country and her father’s country,” Ms Dixon’s son, Simon said.

“To see her design on the magazine cover is special for our generation.

“The future generations can learn about it now – my daughters and my sons.”

Ms Dixon died in 2019, though her work is survived by Ikunji Artists, a non-profit arts centre based in Haasts Bluff three hours west of Alice Springs, where she had been practicing her art for almost 30 years.

Alice Dixon painting in the studio.
image: Ikuntji artists.

Ms Dixon had been a key artist working there since its origins as a women’s centre in 1995.

 

After consultation with Ms Dixon’s family Ikuntji obtained the exclusive licence to her art. Her estate remains the copyright holder and main beneficiary.

Ms Dixon’s children said seeing their mother’s work continue to be shared was important to the family.

“It makes me feel that she is with us today,” Simon Dixon said.

“We negotiated with the art centre how to continue sharing her stories for future generations.

“We are happy with how we set this up now and are proud with how her work is travelling around the world.”

Ikuntji arts centre manager Chrischona Schmidt said Ms Dixon’s vision and leadership was crucial to the centre and small community. Providing a platform for distributing her arts remains key to their work.

“The art centre is a beacon of hope for people,” Ms Schmidt said.

“It creates opportunities, income and a way to work in a culturally meaningful way on a daily basis.

“Continuing to show and promote her work means to acknowledge and respect her role as a cultural leader for Ikuntji.”

Ms Dixon’s continued success is exemplified by the designs presence on Vogue’s cover.

Ms Schmidt said it was “incredibly exciting” for Ikuntji, while her family said the work continued to inspire them.

“I am really proud to see my mum’s work going around the world,” Ms Dixon’s daughter Kathleen said.

“And I am thinking of her, she is with us now.

“I can feel her staying with us.

“She’s here supporting us and the art centre.”

Ikuntji Artists are part of the First Nations Fashion Design Runway at Australian Fashion Week starting May 9 in Sydney.