Papunya Tjupi

Papunya Tjupi is situated in the community of Papunya approximately 250 kilometres west from Alice Springs. Papunya and the surrounding communities are home to scores of highly collectable artists who started their careers with Papunya Tula Artists in the early 1970s. Their children and grandchildren are the new generation of artists from this region, the cradle of contemporary desert painting.

The art centre Papunya Tjupi was founded in 2007 after years of effort by senior men Michael Jagamara Nelson AO and Long Jack Phillipus. The community elders’ main motivation was to have an art centre based in the community where they could use art to teach the young people about their traditional culture, and to give artists a permanent place to paint.

Papunya Tjupi artists continue to be inspired by their ancient Tjukurpa, while allowing personal histories and memories to be interwoven through their rich canvases.

Bula’bula Arts

Bula’bula Arts is a wholly Aboriginal-owned and governed art centre whose history is linked to the establishment of Ramingining community in the early 1970s. Ramingining lies in central Arnhem Land, around 580 kilometres east from Darwin and 30 kilometres inland from the Arafura Sea. Bula’bula’s name is taken from Garrtjambal, the red kangaroo song cycle belonging to this area, and refers both to the language and tongue of the kangaroo.

The local people refer to themselves as Yolngu (literally: people) and to white people as Balanda, which is thought to have derived from “Hollander”. The Dutch were the first white people to make contact with Yolngu in the early seventeenth century as they chartered the northern coast of Australia. Yolngu have interacted with passing seafarers for centuries, most notably the Macassans who came looking for trepang (sea cucumbers).

Over the past four decades, Bula’bula’s artists have become highly regarded for their superb art across various media including fibre arts, painting, barks, works on paper, and Dupun (hollow log coffins or poles). One of their most well-known and loved creations is the Aboriginal Memorial (1988), an installation of 200 burial poles to represent each year of European settlement and to remember all Aboriginal people killed during conflicts with Europeans. This work is on permanent display at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Much of the art expresses the artists’ relationships to traditional art designs, although personal and social narratives are common as well. The distinctive rarrk designs of this area are built up using several layers of fine diagonal cross-hatching in different colours, commonly white, black, yellow and red ochre. Rarrk signifies the artist’s kinship and connection to country.

Ramingining was also home to Bula’bula painter Dr David Malangi (1927-1999), an exceptional artist whose mortuary ritual bark design was appropriated by the Reserve Bank without permission for the new Australian $1 bill issued in 1966. Shortly afterwards, Malangi appealed to the Bank, which acknowledged its mistake by paying him $1000, along with giving him a medal and a fishing tackle box as compensation. This was the first known case of an Indigenous person successfully asserting their copyright. The $1 note was replaced by the $1 coin in 1984. Approximately 1.7 billion notes had been issued during this period; Malangi received no further compensation.

Bula’bula’s artists are widely represented in public collections internationally including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin; Artbank, Sydney; South Australian Museum, Adelaide; British Museum, United Kingdom; Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Germany; Seattle Art Museum, U.S.A.; Aboriginal Art Museum Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Pungkai at work on Tali Tjuta

Ceduna Aboriginal Arts & Culture Centre was established in 2001. Located on the coast of Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, the art centre provides studio and exhibition services for Indigenous artists from the immediate area as well as Oak Valley, Maralinga, Yalata, and Koonibba.

Pungkai is Ceduna’s most high-profile artist, having moved there in 2008 after the death of his Pitjantjatara adoptive mother, Eileen Stevens, at Nyapari. Beaver Lennon, a young local artist, is rapidly becoming the next important artist to emerge from Ceduna; he has been selected for the 2013 Western Australia Indigenous Art Award at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Lennon will be exhibiting at the gallery in October with Pungkai and Greg Johns.

Kaltjiti Arts

Kaltjiti Arts is located in Fregon, APY Lands, in the far north of South Australia. It lies 350 kilometres southeast of Uluru and 500 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs in the remote north-west of South Australia.

Over its long history, Kaltjiti has built a reputation for combining tradition with contemporary art making practices. The artists are individual in their styles, but all are united by a love of colour, Country, and storytelling.

As a desert art studio it defies pigeon-holing, having reinvented itself several times as new art and craft skills were brought into the community. Across the decades, the artists have adopted and adapted various media including hook-rugs, batik, ceramics, carving, weaving, Tjanpi (grass) sculptures, printmaking and painting, with the younger generations now taking to new media.