The artwork, “The 2016 AFL Dream Team”, was sculpted from the softwood of the Beantree (Erythrina vespertilio) by artist Dinny Kunoth Kemarre from Utopia NT to celebrate National Reconciliation Week.
The figures have been painted to bring out the cross cultural identities of the players, chosen by Mr Kemarre’s grandchildren.
It announcing the purchase of the artworks, Mr Smith said “this wonderful new addition to the collection combines two of Australia’s abiding passions – art and sport.”
Wrapped in his favourite Swans scarf and sporting a Swans handkerchief, Mr Smith told those present that since 1980 the Parliament House art collection had acquired almost 600 contemporary works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait artists from urban, regional and remote areas.
He was joined on the podium by AFL manager and head coach for the Adam Goodes talent program, John Love, who spoke about the benefits of engaging indigenous people in sport, giving that it went a long way towards closing the gap.
Marc Gooch from Alice Springs, representing Mr Kemarre, who was unable to be present, explained how the artist had carved the sculptures with a tomahawk and kitchen knife from the softwood with “dedication and gentleness.”
“The 2016 AFL dream Team” will be on display in the Presiding Officers exhibition area on level one of Parliament house (open to the public) until the completion of NAIDOC week on July 10.