Art Yarramunua: more than a gallery
Art Yarramunua, the brainchild from internationally acclaimed artist and spokesperson, Stan ‘Yarramunua’ Dryden, has done more than just introduce Aboriginal art to the people of St Kilda. This Acland Street gallery serves as place of education, rich culture and Aboriginal history, where Yarramunua takes great responsibility in sharing his culture with everyone who visits the gallery.
From mussels to markets
In talking to Yarramunua, it’s hard not to get swept up in the gallery’s origin and his own history. Experiencing a tough upbringing where he and his father ate mussels off the St Kilda pier and slept in vacant houses, Yarramunua doesn’t take his current situation for granted.
“It’s my art and my culture that’s put me on the path of educating people. I feel like it’s a privilege to be able to do that considering where I came from, and I don’t take it for granted that I get to share this gift with a lot of people,” Yarramunua said.
Battling alcohol addiction, Yarramunua was able to focus and put his time into working at the Galiamble Men’s Recovery Centre. There, he found a blank canvas and picked up a brush, painting his first piece, which sold for $150.
From then on, Yarramunua started painting for a living, selling his work at the St Kilda Esplanade Market for over 18 years. Broadening his horizons, Yarramunua moved into a Collins Street store, before coming back to where it all began in St Kilda.
Amazing work highlighting Australia’s rich culture
Yarramunua and other artists’ work that adorns the wall is simply breathtaking to look at. With pieces by Brett Booth, Angampa Martin, and Gracie Mortin – the space is overflowing with artwork, all for sale.
While Yarramunua’s skills have continued to grow, his position as an artist has grown beyond selling his wares.
“When I sell it, I want to connect with the people and the community, tell them the story. It’s changed from just selling art to be a lot more: it’s a responsibility now,” Yarramunua said.
Part of that responsibility is selling other emerging artists’ work, ensuring they’re looked after.
“I know what it’s like to be ripped off, so I tried to avoid other people going through the same thing. I make sure they get the right price for what they’re selling,” Yarramunua said.
In the ArtYarramunua space, guests can hear the origins behind paintings, and the culture that they represent. With the Aboriginal art market changing to feature more Australian buyers, Yarramunua puts it down to education once again.
“It’s great to see Australian and non-Australian people learning about their culture. Aboriginal culture belongs to everyone living here, and that’s a positive thing.
We have to stop thinking about an “us versus them” mentality; we all belong to it and we’re all responsible for it. More Australians are buying Aboriginal art because they feel like it’s their culture, which is great,” Yarramunua said.
Taking Aboriginal culture to another level in St Kilda
Yarramunua sees great potential around Acland Street, hoping to take his arts space to greater heights in a warehouse space centred on education and cultural awareness.
“I’d love for kids and families to make boomerangs, paint didgeridoos, and come to a healing space for learning about culture,” Yarramunua said glowingly.
He doesn’t see why St Kilda’s growing appreciation for Aboriginal culture wouldn’t result in a festival celebrating everything Aboriginal.
“If people in the area are coming to the gallery, putting Aboriginal art in their homes and embracing our culture, let’s get a festival going. Showcasing storytelling, bands, dancing, movies and everything great about our shared culture, it’d be another way to educate people.”
While Yarramunua’s passion for change and banding together is palpable, the talented artist is humble when showcasing his ideas.
“I’m just a little seed doing something, but it’s growing. It’s a good time to be an Australian right now and I’m certainly proud to be one.”
Check out the ArtYarramunua space or other galleries like Linden New Artin St Kilda, or see more great attractions showcased on our Explore Port Phillip blog.
92b Acland Street, St Kilda
Monday to Sunday 11 am to 5 pm