Saturday, 27 December 2008

The year is closing and I am trying to get organized for christmas holidays and for the January hand over of Papulankutja Artists to Anthony. I just do not seem to be able to get it everything done.

I have found that the Papulankutja Artists website is not working, there seems to be three entities involved in the thing being up there, AMS software, Smartyhost the web hosting entity and Icarus Industrial Design who developed the web and seem now to have a part it in staying up there, none of these guys seem to think the problem is theirs ... I have not had the time or the energy to do the level of chasing that is required and of course with christmas holidays on the horizon it is difficult to get hold of anyone or get anything done.

We have had the blessing of rain which also has the down side of buggering up the roads. There have been three significant rain storms, so the roads emediate to Blackstone are a mess and to add to the difficulties there are large transport vehicles bogged in the middle of the roads which at times prevent through traffic as detour ends in further vehicles getting bogged.

Toby took my toyota ute out with a load of my 6 years accumulation and he got bogged at one of the transport bogging sites, he had a dreadful trip out but made it OK althought exhausted.

I have been a bit nervous about the trip, just did not want to find myself bogged with no help. Simon the mechanic from Warakurna wanted to get to the Rock to fly home to Perth for Christmas and had work to do on Blackstone vehicles, so he decided to make us his last port of call for work and then drive out with me. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

He finaly made it to Blackstone late on Monday night, no work possible on the vehicles. We headed out pretty well straight away. 22ks down the road we bogged the troupie.

After many hours digging and a fitfull attempt at sleeping in the bog with the mozzies, Simon decided to walk back to Blackstone to get help.

While Simon was walking a lovely couple of fellas from Mimilie stopped by and very cleverly towed the troupie out ... and I do mean very cleverly. I had come to the conclusion the vehicle would not come out, it took the guys quite an effort and I am very grateful to them.

I drove the vehicle back to Blackstone to find Simon and we headed out again. I asked Brad to ring my daugher and let her know we were ok but I would be late getting home. All in all we spent 16 hours in the bog. We finally got to the Rock at about 9.30 on Tuesday night. Both of us caked in mud, hungry and exhausted.

A quick rearrange of the flight bookings and I fell into bed for a big sleep. I still had to sort the computer which I had left with Neville in Alice and the yultju money for Cliff and Ruby ... not sure how I would do thatI headed to the airport for leg one to alice. Good old Neville came out to the airport in Alice to sort the computer for me and Cliff and Ruby did the same. It was lovely to see them, a little teary we hugged and yet again I was reminded of what I would be leaving behind in January.

Monday, 8 December 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Nadia, Rosie, Sharina, Katherine, Marcia, Socoway and Angela at the art centre Christmas party.

Sara Twigg Patterson sent us some wonderful new Tshirts for the artists and it was great fun trying them on and then, of course, taking the necessary photos.

Anthony our new manager quited himself well at the BBQ. The mob definitely think they are on a winner with this one.

Wipu my dog, has given Anthony the thumbs up.

Sandy the Home and Community Care coordinator for Ng Lands, joined us for lunch.

While the mob are gathered around the BBQ looking for tucka, Joy is inside enjoying the gale force winds coming from the cooler.

Nadia thought she would like to do a solo model of her new T Shirt and show off her lovely fingernail polish.

Sharine decided a bit more colour should go to the T shirt parade.

Nemo thought air conditioned comfort on the couch with the Jean Lane Spinifex Tjitji, was his best option.


Dianna is thinking an early night will be the go.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Photos of the Papulankutja Artists works (enhanced by a little Tjanpi display) at the Melbourne launch of Western Desert Mob.

Photos by Tim Acker.

I was deeply dissapointed not to be there and am most grateful to Tim for providing these shots for me and you to enjoy.

I hope to drop by Melbourne in January to check it out for myself.

Friday, 14 November 2008

I just could not resist showing this picture. Is this woman gorgeous or what!

Angilyiya Mitchell with her beautiful big basket. I am wondering how I am going to get that one into the Tjanpi office. It was such a joy taking this picture, Angilyiya is so pleased with this work and her beautiful husband was sitting to one side just beaming with affection and pride. These two are a wonderful couple and just being in the room with them is a great pleasure.

Angilyiya has been talking of this basket for some time, she has been scrounging materials from every which way, for binding the grass. Her mother is unwell and Angilyiya has been working at home, keeping an eye on Mrs. Brown but always working. She is now working on a painting, a Seven Sisters story. She is such a craftswoman, innovative and always pushing the envelope with her art.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

It seems like a lifetime ago when I was talking of the ladies going to Perth for the Revealed show and market place.
This is a photo of our market place set up, kindly provided by Tim Pearn.

It has been busy with day to day activities, also, as usual I am way behind with the paper work, I have had a visit from Susan and Barbara my representatives form ICC, our funding people and I am trying to get into some kind of order before the Christmas break.

Next week I head to Perth for the Western Desert Mob Show.


Many Friendships thrive at Bunjilaka

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum presents
Western Desert Mob Exhibition Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum and Western Desert Mob have partnered together to celebrate the importance of connection to Country and culture through art, at the upcoming exhibition Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships. The exhibition will be held 21 November 2008 to 29 February 2009.

Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships is Western Desert Mob’s inaugural collaborative exhibition in Victoria and includes a vibrant collection of paintings, punu (woodcarvings) and tjanpi (weavings) from the Western Desert Mob Art Centre alliance; Kayili Artists, Warakurna Artists, Papulankutja Artists, Maruku Arts, Tjanpi Desert Weavers and Tjarlirli Arts.

“Bunjilaka is excited at the opportunity to present Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships for the first time in Melbourne, a vibrant collection of recent work from the Western Desert Art Centres,” said Caroline Martin, Bunjilaka Manager.

“Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships provides a wonderful complement to Bunjilaka’s exhibitions detailing the history and cultures of Aboriginal Australia, and to Bunjilaka’s role as a site that empowers Aboriginal people to interpret their own cultural heritage,” Martin continued.

The Art Centres maintain transparent operations, producing artworks of impeccable provenance, with all profits being returned directly artists, communities and the sustainability of the Western Desert Mob alliance.

Artist and spokesperson of Western Desert Mob Mrs Eunice Porter said her Art Centre, Warakurna Artists is a place that fosters many friendships and it is the strength of these relationships within the Ngaanyatjarra Lands that makes the Western Desert Mob alliance something the artists are proud to be part of.

In particular Mrs Porter says her community and the artists at Warakurna benefit from the links Western Desert Mob provides between communities across Australia.

“At Warakurna we paint to share our stories and our Art Centre is a happy place for this. We have Yamatji Pirni (many friendships) with each community. With Papulankutja, Patjarr, Tjukurla, Mutitjulu and all Western Desert Mob communities. We share our stories with them,” Mrs Porter said.

“When people visit us we welcome them, we want to share our stories with them and with whitefellas to keep our culture strong,” Mrs Porter said.

Western Desert Mob Coordinator Mr Tim Acker said Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships is above all testimony to the importance of strong and united Aboriginal communities.

“The Western Desert Mob alliance was established to strengthen the Yamatji Pirni (many friendships) between artists and communities in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands and is building momentum with new Art Centres alliances forming around the country. With this exhibition Western Desert Mob members are celebrating our second anniversary and our success in setting new standards in empowering Aboriginal artists,” Mr Acker said.

Beyond the collection of inspiring artworks Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships’ underlying message is to educate art enthusiasts of the positive outcomes that can be achieved through alliances that empower Aboriginal artists and communities like Western Desert Mob.

“Western Desert Mob demonstrates the power of proactive and positive alliances between artists and Art Centres, a critical contribution to the wellbeing of their industry and what will ultimately sustain the cultural integrity of Aboriginal art,” Mr Tim Acker said.

“Authentic art sourced from Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centres provides a quality investment for the individual art buyer and on a broader level supports Aboriginal culture in Australia,” Mr Acker said.

“Western Desert Mob community Art Centres are one of the most positive examples of Aboriginal owned and governed enterprises. Art Centres enable individuals to access independent livelihoods, improves community wellbeing and empowers artists,” Mr Acker said.

Exhibition Details:

Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships
Life and art of Western Desert Mob

When: 21 November 2008 – 29 February 2009
Where: Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum
Who: Western Desert Mob artists

Celebrate Australia’s thriving western desert communities through art, culture and stories of the people and their country.

More than forty artists from Kayili Artists, Warakurna Artists, Papulankutja Artists, Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Maruku Arts and Tjarlirli Art share their stories through painting, punu (woodcarving) and tjanpi (weaving).

Western Desert Mob community Art Centres of are one of the most positive examples of Aboriginal owned and governed enterprises. Art Centres enable individuals to access independent livelihoods, improves community wellbeing and empowers artists.
Western Desert Mob Art Centres maintain transparent operations, producing artworks of impeccable provenance.

Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, Carlton.
Open 10.00am to 5.00pm daily.
Admission: $6 Adults, children and concession FREE.
For further information, visit
or phone 13 11 02.

After the WDM opening I will meeting up with Anthony Spry, the manager elect of Papulankutja Artists. We will be catching up with business associates in Melbourne to talk about next year's exhibition program for Papulankutja Artists and then heading back to Blackstone.

Anthony has been involved in the emerging artists development program at Balgo. His wife Rocky has been manager of the culture centre there. I am very excited about this appointment, I look around and feel how little I can give to the up and coming artists and their development. I hold great hope for the work that Anthony will do with the art centre. The artists are looking forward to this also.

Of course in 2009 we will forge ahead in earnest with our outreach program to Jameson and Wingellina. This is a program developed to engage the emerging artists from those communities and train art workers from each community to give ownership to the program to each community. We are in the final stages of appointing the permanent art development and field assistant for this program. working with temporary staff and engaging the artists remotely from this art centre has been a start but is in no way satisfactory.

Jameson and Wingellina are providing secure working space and our outreach art development staff will spend time in each community working with the artists and assisting the trainee art workers to facilitate art production. Papulankutja Artists will manage and market for each of the outreach centres.

There has been a great deal of disruption to the peace at Blackstone since the recent sorry business, much unhappiness and unrest, it has made life a bit uneasy and the art centre is not immune to the moods of the community. Hopefully this will settle down soon.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

.......... Photo taken by Thisbe Purich during the Walu Walk.

Another Busy Sunday.

I have decided to put works with Martin at Aboriginal Art online.

The Revealed Showcase in Perth together with the move to the new art centre at Blackstone seems to have invigorated quite a few of the artists from Papulankutja.

For the first time I can remember, I am getting some really good mid range works. The art market is a funny place, often this lovely level of work does not fit with the "up market gallery" situation, yet is not suitable for the variety of tourist shops and sites like the culture centre at Uluru. I have long intended to put works up with Aboriginal Art Online but have had such inconsistent supply of really good mid stream work that I have never moved forward with this idea. This week I have!

I am now getting ready the works for the market place in Perth. Three of our artists are heading down to attend the various activities that surround the "Revealed" Showcase being held at the Perth TAFE.

My friend Jennifer Loverock is going to collect the ladies from the Perth airport and shepherd them over their 4 days in Perth. It will be great experience for the artists to stand and sell their works at the market stall and there will be good opportunities for them, with the professional development activities as well.

I realized on Friday that Gerry from the Melting Pot will be in Perth for some of the professional development activities. It may also be that Jodie, who worked so well with us with the Spinifex Paper may be there as well. The ladies will love to see familiar faces and I know they always love the glass work activities that the Melting Pot provide at Blackstone during Festival time.

A a busy worksite in the Papulankutja Artists Minyma painting studio.

Monday, 29 September 2008

The Man!

A quote from The Australian, Monday September 29th 2008, page 32 from Nicolas Rothwell:-

Perhaps the single most arresting piece in the show is the ultra traditional "Men's Design" by Cliff Reid, the best know painter at Blackstone's Papulankutja Arts: His work possesses the hieratic strength of Pintupi masterpieces from the early 1970s when the sacred underpinnings of desert men's paintings lay close to the surface of their work.


Wednesday 7.00 pm, sorting, packing and wondering how the hell I am going to get out with the stuff and the people on board for our trip to Alice. Thelma McLean drops in to say hello and to bring her latest painting. A lovely work, she asks if I will take it to Alice, no I tell her, no room and no time for documentation and I think it can go somewhere better, the market place has a ceiling of 200 dollars, this work of Thelma's is better than that.

I decide that I am not fit to do anything more, I phone Toby and ask if he will get up early in the morning and help me load the freight rack on the top of the troopie, that is the only way I can get the mob and the art work on board.

4.30 am Thursday, I head to the art centre, finish consigning the work and printing the certificates, Toby comes up and he dust proofs the artwork, loads it all securely on the top of the troopie. 8.30am and I am ready to gather the mob. I had wanted to be out by 7.00 am, but with Leroy driving, I knew we would be OK for time.

First, get Leroy, can not find Leroy, after waisting some time, I am advised that Leroy went to Kalgoorlie last night. Bugger! Go to get my art centre working team, the husband will not get out of bed, he is a little jealous letting his wife loose in Alice and is refusing to budge. I am worried because his wife comes from Alice and this is a chance for her to see her family, there is no way that he is going to let her come .... Oh well!

The Mitchells, Angilyiya is worried, there is a second funeral at Wingellina, Anawari will not be coming or has gone to Wingellina already, so I say I will go to her house and ask what the story is, Winston tells me that Anawari has changed her mind, she is going to Wingellina, OK I tell him and head back to Angilyiya, who clearly does not want to come but who is not game to tell me so, good! I think and gather Shirley as well.

I have a huge load on the top of the car and two women sitting in the front seat with me, an empty back .... Christ! I could have left at 7.00 am with the load in the back, as it is we are heading out with me driving and it is after 10.00 am.

I am very worried about getting to Alice and since I had a small accident in the art centre, I have a gammy leg and have difficulty driving.

I had supplies for 7 people to make sure that there was not excuse to stop before Mt.Ebenezer, so the ladies were happy with juice and fruit and cheese and meat and so on. I applied myself to getting through the lands as quickly as I could, the road was quite good until we hit Kanpi, then it went severely downhill. We struggled on to Mt Ebenezer and I was hurting like buggery, it was 4.00 pm and I was worried about driving in the dark to Alice. We took a good break, I thought if I walked around and rested, I would be OK. The next 50ks to Erldunda convinced me that I would not be OK. The leg hurt more and I decided that we would spend the night at Erldunda.

I was tired and sore and I know the ladies, who did not complain, were tired also.

Angilyiya had wanted to go into Amata to get some minklepa I had refused because of the time and the size of the trip, when we pulled into the car park at Erldunda, she leaped from the car, grabbing bits of foliage from the ground, very gleefully, popped herself cross legged on the white gravel and proceeded to light a little fire to process the valuable find. She had her minklepa. I wondered if I would have the police, but we seemed to have fire and get inside without notice. Just a little black/grey patch on the otherwise pristine white gravel.

We all slept well and headed on our trip at 7.00 am, we breakfasted at Stuart Well and were at the Diplomat by 9.30. Some muddling with our bookings, took a while to sort and then we were in our rooms.

Thisbe was chasing the women for the Dance Site, some rehearsal and mostly to keep them in sight and ready for the night to come. I was glad to unload my troops, had some banking and shopping and galley hopping to do, but was also glad just to take it easy for a bit. I was tired and very sore. I understand the grading of the Docker Road is complete, 200ks extra to travel that way, but for the return trip I think it will be worth it.

I hate driving around Alice, lucky for me, my friend Jennifer Loverock has come to Alice and she is doing the driving.

The dancing ladies arrived back at the Diplomat from the Dance Site higly pumped. Angilyiya had sung the Kuruala song, having relearned all the verses and the ladies danced for those seven sisters and their experiences at Kuruala. The joy was unmeasurable and there were flowing happy tears, sometimes what ever the effort, it is well worthwhile.

Angiliya went on the Bush Bus to Docker River on Saturday morning, so she was able to get to Wingellina for the second funeral.

The market place on Saturday went well, the best we have done since we started attending. Jenny and I headed over at 8.00 via the supermarket for some odds and sods. I told Freda an Shirley that I would pick them up and to say near the room. Of course when Jenny and I went to get them at 10.30, they were nowhere to be found, after some checking likely haunts with no luck we decided to head back to the market place without them. The thing opened at 11.00 am. On the way, we saw the women walking down Larapinta Drive, right where we could not stop and pick them up. Well should not have stopped to pick them up. Jenny drove the troopie on to the cement medium strip, cars pelting past us on both sides, the ladies braved the speeding cars and jumped on board, with the big garbage bags of shopping they had collected that morning. It must be time for me to get done by the police!!!

Sunday morning there was an opportunity for us to preview the exhibition, we picked Cliff up from Stuart Lodge and checked it all out. Our work was better presented this year although some of it was hung sideways. My mob were quite proud of their work and so was I.

The opening of Desert Mob was full of the usual hullabaloo, big crowds and to our excitement, good quick sales for us. Cliff, Freda and Shirley were very excited to see the red dots go on their works.

I put the ladies on the Bush Bus this morning and I am sorting out parcels, writing a little talk, arranging pick up of stuff at my own pace. No one but me to look after.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

You would never imagine the stuff that has been collected by the women's centre/art centre over god knows how many years.

I wonder if I will ever get through it all. At last the various cubby holes, forgotten offices, storage cupboards etc. have been emptied and it is all up here in the new building. I am trying to systematically sort through stuff and move it in and out of my office. At times I can barely move for stuff and all of it inches deep in dust.

I have tourists coming in tomorrow, so I am clearing a space and attempting to make my office look like an efficient place.

I have had to work solidly on sorting and cataloguing because of the Desert Mob Market Place in Alice and the sorting and sending works for Tandanya, so I am in better shape in that way than I have been for a while.

I wish I had had the new Cliff works before needing to consign the Desert Mob stuff, but there you go, I didn't and there is some nice work in Alice anyway.

Since talking to the younger group of artists about the "Revealed" show in Perth, there has been a concerted effort put in by some of the group, Katherine Jackson has just finnished this one with a lovely small work under way. I am trying to decide what to do with them for the best.

I want to get money in a hurry to encourage the work.

Janet Forbes in particular is working on this very beautiful piece, with an astonishing Wati Kutjarra Story, might be on a needs to know basis I think :-)!

The weather is hotting up and I am very glad for my little air conditioned office. I ordered a window type mount air con for the old men's painting donga on Friday, it will be as hot as buggery in there otherwise. it should come out on the Talbot Truck with the G&R Wills stuff early next week, Toby will install it for us, I had the Ng Services Electrician put in a power outlet for it when he wired the Men's Painting donga a while back.

I am keeping my fingers crossed. Vince, Mae Forbes' husband came scrounging for cash today. He offered labour in lieu and i talked to him about the veranda for the men's donga. he is a good worker and great welder also. so he says he will start work on Monday on the veranda then he says he is interested in painting the exterior (we have paint to match the new building). Vince is from Mutitjulu and has a better understanding of starting and finishing a job than some of the guys here, so without getting to excited, I am reasonable optimistic of getting the veranda before it is just too hot.

On thursday morning we head into Alice for the DesertMob weekend. A hell of a trip and one never realy knows until the last minute who will be with you. I have to produce 6 women for the dance site, that should be a life experience. Last year after much excited discussion most of my mob pulled out and angilyiya and Shirley did the Illurpa Dance ..... i was so proud of them. They have put their hands up again this year and Anawari Mitchell has volunteer also ..... tomorrow there will have to be some effort in sorting the others. Freda will be in alice but she is not very mobile at the moment with a fractured collarbone, she will most likely clap and sing ... Janet Forbes has indicated she may be prepared to some and I have been told to ask angela Llyons, so you never know.

I am keen to check out the Balgo emerging artists at Gallery Gondwana, I have heard great things of the youth developement program from Balgo.

My friend Michael is talking of travelling back with me to Blackstone, I will be very pleased if he does, he can help with the driving on the bitument.

I will be sending the mob back on the Bush bus on Monday, I have to stay in alice for a few extra days and will not leave until Thursday.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Exciting times.

Emerging Artists from Western Australia's Aboriginal Art Centres.

Anawari Mitchell working in the art centre.

The Western Australian government and Central TAFE Art Gallery are proud to present the inaugural showcase of the best art from young and emerging aboriginal artists from across regional and remote Western Australia. 2008 is the first year of this new initiative and combined with the short timelines, "Revealed" will be working only with established art centres. the "Revelaed" program is run in conjunction with the Western Australian Premier's indigenous Art Awards.

Maime Butler, working in the art centre.

Papulankututja is proud to say that two of its Minyma have been selected to participate in "Revealed" Anawari Mitchell and Maime Butler.<

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Dianna, a little too excited, trying to take snaps of the new Cliff works on the balcony of the Diplomat in Alice Spring!!

Sunday in Adelaide.

Well here I am, sitting in the kitchen of my Keswick home. My daughter and grandson have headed to the Wayville showgrounds for some fun at the Royal Adelaide show. Amy will phone me at some stage to come and join them, check out the chooks (my favourite) and the phtographic competitions, sister in law Kathy has work on display but most important of all, help carry the show bag haul home.

I am rather excited. I picked up the new Cliff Reid paintings while traveling through Alice. I am so pleased. I will add one of the new Cliff works to the Tandanya show, most of the work has now been dropped off and the balance will go with me in the taxi as I head to the plane back to Blackstone early Monday morning.

There is a large article in the Saturday review section of the Adelaide Advertiser, a lift out with a front page heading of "culture vultures" and including an article titled "aboriginal artists sold out". I have not yet had the chance to read this with any proper concentration, but always I am frustrated by the sensational headings and the giant dollar amounts mentioned, which devalue the important story of indigenous art and indigenous art centres. Headings which make statements about huge amounts of money and artists living in poverty, simplistically belittle the complexity of the situation. I am glad that the issue is out there in the public arena but I wish someone would bother to have a better look and consider the whole view, not just the so called "high end" resale market, which at best is a little skew and very removed from the base roots of indigenous artists and their production of art.

Lotte from Desart is working on the short list of applicants for the manager position at papulankutja artists. She will try to tee up a series of phone interviews with the applicants, the selection committee, me and artists from papulankutja for next week. Some wonderful people have applied for my job!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Another trip out.

I am headed through Alice to Adelaide and back. A huge trip in a big hurry.

We have accepted the opportunity to display works at Tandanya in Adelaide for the month of October. I have selected a broad range of works for this celebration of our community based art centre. I have some lovely works of Kantjupayi Benson that have been tucked away for a while. Kantjupayi is not working very much these days, she is frail and spends much of her time at Wannarn Aged Care where she does a little therapeutic work the Edwina from Warakurna Artists. Kantjupayi is a most important artists and cultural woman, I am glad to have this opportunity to show this work as a small homage to her recognizing her importance to the life of this art centre and community. There is a broad range of work that will show at Tandanya from senior and established artists and some emerging work. It is always interesting for me to see the family connections. Angilyiya Mitchell is a wonderul law woman and artists. Her work can be quite wild and inovative, so there are some fun works from her included.

I am also taking this opportunity to put our work in for Desert Mob, we have a lovely selection for the Desert Mob show and will be at the desert mob market place, so heading out now, gives me the opportunity sort this work out as well. I will also pick up the first works from Cliff Reid since he has been working for us in Alice with Ngurratjuta. We are so grateful to Ngurratjuta for helping Cliff while he is having medical treatment in Alice. Cliff tells me he is feeling so much better with the treatment. I think this is reflected int he work he is doing. I cant wait to pick it up and see it live. New works from Cliff are being set aside for the Melbourne Desert Mob Launch in late November.

I have some wonderful applications for the work positions advertised for Papulankutja Artists. I am thrilled with this response and have now forwarded these on to the three people in the selection committee. I will be meeting and talking with the committee members in the next few days also.

On Thursday I will be meeting with Desart and Ngaanyatjarra Council to discuss the training initiative that goes with the outreach project to Jameson and Wingellina. Ngaanyatjarra Council are assisting with the training wage and provision of the trainer, Desart are assisting with the expertise in course material for work readiness skills and art centre worker skills as well as selection of appropriate trainers. I see this as a most positive initiative and a great display of cooperation between Desart, Papulankutja Artists and Ngaanyatjarra Council.

I am trying now to turn my attendion to the History Exhibition for Papulankutja Artists that will open at Waburton in March next year. There is always so much on the horizon, this is a wonderful place with amazing people and history.

Sunday, 31 August 2008


29 August 2008

Warakurna Artists Win Illustrious Australian Indigenous Award
The significance and value of Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centres in the Australian art industry has been officially recognised and endorsed with Western Desert Mob’s Warakurna Artists winning Reconciliation Australia and BHP Billiton’s Indigenous Governance Awards announced today in Melbourne.

Warakurna Artists of the Warakurna community in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia’s western desert, topped the 2008 Awards for the Art Centre’s strong governance and commitment to consumer education and ethical dealing in the Indigenous art industry.

Warakurna Artists Art Centre Manager, Ms Edwina Circuitt said the award is a credit to the extensive governance training and consumer education programs by the West Australian Government operating in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands to empower Aboriginal artists.

“Warakurna Artists is incredibly proud to be recognised with such a prestigious award. It highlights the significance of being an Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centre business,” she said. “Our Art Centre was established in 2004 to support the production and marketing of culturally intense, artistically rich works of art through a creative facility where the artists and community are the sole benefactors of art sales revenue,” Ms Circuitt said. “Receiving this award is a testament to not only the passionate people of Warakurna community, but the collaborative commitment artists and Art Centres in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands who work together through alliances such as Western Desert Mob to promote positive change in the
Aboriginal art industry.” Ms Circuitt said.

Warakurna artist, community elder and Chairwoman of Warakurna Artists, Mrs Eunice Porter said painting was important to sustain culture within Warakurna community and the Art Centre provides a central facility for social and cultural events as well as a place to paint. “Warakurna is a happy place. We paint our stories to share them with our children. We paint to share our stories with whitefellas. We go on trips to country to paint our stories so our culture will remain strong,” Mrs Porter said.
Western Desert Mob coordinator, Mr Tim Acker said the award is evidence of Warakurna Artists’ passion and dedication to ethical trading in the Aboriginal art industry.
“Warakurna Artist’s Reconciliation Award is timely recognition of Aboriginal owned Art Centres’ importance to encouraging best practice in Australia’s most significant creative industry.

Warakurna Artists is a committed member of Western Desert Mob and fine example how
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can work in collaboration,” Mr Acker said.
“Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centres enable individuals to access independent income, improve community wellbeing and empower artists. In addition they maintain transparent operations from artistry through to sale providing art buyers works with the most impeccable provenance on the market,” Mr Acker said.

Media Release: Warakurna Artists Win Illustrious Australia Indigenous Award cont.
Warakurna Artists’ prize includes a $50,000 scholarship for two art centre Executives
to attend an international leadership program in the USA. The prize also includes
$10,000 toward governance training and professional development for Warakurna
Western Desert Mob is an alliance of six Aboriginal owned and governed art centres from the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Australia’s western deserts.

Western Desert Mob artists are from:
- Warakurna Artists, Warakurna
- Papulankutja Artists, Papulankutja
- Kayili Artists, Patjarr
- Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Lands
- Maruku Arts, Mutitjulu
- Tjarlirli Art, Tjukurla

For more information please contact:
Emily Sharland
0420 988 414

The Indigenous Governance Awards
The IGA is a partnership project is a partnership project between Reconciliation Australia and BHP Billiton designed to identify, analyse, celebrate and promote high achieving Indigenous governance. By boosting awareness about the benefits of good governance, the awards encourage organisations to invest time and energy into this important element of their work for Indigenous communities.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Desart Media Statement
13 August 2008

Over the past few years there have been concerted efforts by many Aboriginal
artists to involve themselves in training about governance and the business
connected with their art. We think it is commendable that artists are engaging
in this debate and it is to their credit that they wish to uphold sound business
management in their industry.
It is important to understand that Central Australian Art Centres continue to
view the Telstra award with the greatest respect.
Desart and other Aboriginal arts organisations are engaged with MAGNT to
discuss how entry conditions for the award might be improved in the future
and this will involve consideration of the new Indigenous Australian Art
Commercial Code of Conduct.
Desart believe there is an important role for MAGNT in providing leadership to
other awards and prizes around the country to increase the level of scrutiny
about arts business practice in their conditions of entry, particularly in relation
to Indigenous visual arts and artists.

John Oster
Executive Officer
Further information
NAVA provides information about the professional conduct of art awards and prizes. See
The Australia Council for the Arts publishes a useful guide ‘Protocols for producing
Indigenous Australian visual arts’.
13 August 2008

Aboriginal Art Organisations Speak Out

Forty three Aboriginal Art Centres, representing more than one thousand Indigenous
artists have united to speak out on the devastating effects that art dealing outside
the Art Centres has on Aboriginal communities.
The Artists and Art Centres are speaking through their peak industry organisations; Desart and
Ananguku Arts.
John Oster, Executive Director of Desart said while the media coverage has unearthed significant
issues concerning artistic, financial and trade practices; only half the story is being told.
“We seem to have forgotten about art buyers in this equation. Consumer awareness and informed
buying of Aboriginal art is the critical act that can rebalance the exchange between artist and
consumer,” Oster said.
“Importantly, the benefits are for the art buyer as much as for the artist. In buying from an Art
Centre, consumers are accessing work of the highest integrity and quality,” he said.
Oster added that Art Centres offer the necessary protection for Aboriginal art purchasers by truly
guaranteeing the provenance of all their works of art.
According to the two Aboriginal art organisations, purchasing Aboriginal art and craft sourced from
Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centre enterprises is critical to remote area livelihoods and for
the continued growth and health of the market.
Contrary to some reports, Oster said Art Centres are owned and managed by the Aboriginal artists.
“Let me make this very clear. Art Centres are powerful examples of Aboriginal owned enterprises.
The artists are in charge of their own destiny, how their art is sold and where and what they paint,”
he said.
“Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centres are incorporated under Federal or State legislation and
meet the highest standards of transparency and accountability,” Oster added.
“There has been significant coverage regarding the importance of the provenance of artworks in
terms of resale value in the secondary market,” he said.
Oster adds that Art Centres play a powerful role in the art world because many galleries and major
national institutions are now only choosing to show Art Centre produced work.
“Galleries know that Art Centre works represent quality, integrity, authenticity and strong
provenance. They also know the works of art that they display and sell to their clients reflect their
own business image and ethics,” he said.
“You need to do more than sell a painting to transform poverty,” Oster said.

“Art Centres have worked for three decades and will carry on doing so in remote communities.
They continue to show why, artistically and economically, they are so important and bring
considerable benefits to an artist, their family and their wider community,” he said.
“Art Centres employ a whitefella manager to help them negotiate the whitefella world. But the
business is owned by the artists and it is they who employ the manager. Decisions are made by the
artists themselves,” he said.
“In working with artists everyday I have seen firsthand how profound the benefits of an Aboriginalowned
and managed business in remote communities actually is,” he said.
According to Liz Tregenza, General Manager of Ananguku Arts, “The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands
are home to Australia’s oldest Aboriginal art centre (Ernabella celebrates its 60th birthday this year)
and some of the youngest,” she said.
“In communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands, Art Centres act as functional community
centres providing a range of socio-cultural services in addition to fostering artists’ professional
development. In this region Art Centres are usually the only source of external income other than
government funding.
“One of the key characteristics of Art Centres is that they work with artists to identify, support and
develop young and emerging artists,” Tregenza said.
Other important aspects of community-based Art Centres are:
Art Centres are accountable. They are based on best practice systems that are stable,
transparent and for the benefit of all artists.
Art Centres are artist owned and managed
They support all artists – emerging and well known.
The benefit of an Art Centre stays in their community, reinvested in the Art Centres’
ongoing operations.
Youth work alongside older artists – supporting the transmission of culture.
A wide range of cultural and social support is offered in communities of severe
They offer realistic remote area livelihoods for Aboriginal people.

For more information please contact:
Emily Sharland
The Hub Marketing Communications
0420 988 414
I had a very quick trip to Darwin for the Western Desert Mob meeting. We are planning our Melbourne exhibition and our "Buy right way" campaign, amongst other things.

I will post the press statement issued by the group and the statement read at our press conference by John Oster of Desart.

What is interesting to me is the reporting that came from our press meeting. It is clear to me that there is no comprehension of the importance of community based art centres or the energy that the art centre members put into understanding and working their business in remote and difficult conditions. The journalists seem rude and arrogant in their attitude to indigenous art centre executive members and their capacity to learn and work in their art centre.

I spoke to Peter Shepherd this week to talk about our business training sessions and the work we have done over the last 5 years. We were due to have our next training meeting at Warakurna this week, due to the very unexpected and sad death of Mr. Ivan Shepherd, the meeting has been called off for now. Peter and I feel we have come a long way, it has been a big ask getting these guys, some of them who remember the first coming of white man, to take on the management of art centres that require government regulated performance.

At Blackstone we are trying with the assistance of Desart and Ngaanyatjarra Council to bring young community members into formalized training that will give them the skills and desire to participate more fully in the management of the art centre, take the burden off the elders who have carried this task until now.

A business training meeting with Peter Shepherd at Blackstone in early 2006

We have had to learn and accept concepts that are quite foreign to us, deal with a world that we have never seen and of which we have no understanding. Be confused by the whitefella market and their quirky and strange take on what is good art and their lack of understanding of what is truly important.

Our methods are adapted to what we have found practical, we work with an interpreter, we do a lot of writing on large sheets of butchers paper, we stop between training sessions and the artists meet and talk amongst themselves to discuss what they have heard and to bring back questions and give directions about some business process and future directions.

This is an intense and serious time, to suggest that the artists are not participating in the management and decision making of their art centre is insulting in the least.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

By Amy Bowman

.............(Hear ME)

In the beginning when the World was still new,
our own kind, our own people, was all that we knew.
Our keeper the Earth we did treat with respect,
in return she made sure all our needs were met.
Food was good, renewable and plenty,
diseases were few in our isolated sanctuary.

One day a new man, he came to our shores,
his face was all pasty and what strange clothing he adorned.
He said, “Let us be friends, there is no need to fight,
so long as you give up your land and your rights.”
How strange were these men with their fences and deeds,
how hostile they became when we would not leave.

This is our country, our home, where else could we go?
You ask us to leave our ancestry, our identities, all that we know.
With no other choice we prepared for the fight,
our spears were no match for so many men with their weapons of might.
We were herded like cattle and murdered on sight,
a mere inconvenience to the lives of the white!

The next thing we knew the missionaries, they came.
They cried, “Stop with this slaughter we are sure they can come tame.
Poor wretched things surely there souls can be saved,
we will teach them to be like us, teach them good Christian ways.”
“Let us take care of you, keep you safe keep you clean,
so long as you give up your beliefs and your Dreaming.”

We are a people with a culture rich and strong,
you ask us to give up our essence, our song.
You claimed we could not be controlled, we were too heavily tainted,
so you focused on the children, you kept us separated.
Claimed it was for the best, for our lives were unclean,
you took hold of our children, any way you could, by all means.

Two hundred years on, once more our culture grows strong,
yet still many people cannot see what was so wrong.
You ask us, “why so angry?” “Forget the past, no need to feel so dejected.”
“After all we said sorry, explained that it was all well intended.”
We thank you, we do, for this chance to move forward,
but please do not ask us to forget the pain we have endured.

The past is as strong as it was yesterday to our people,
yet we can never be broken for a reason good and simple.
Remember when admiring the beauty of the land, the country,
our ancestor’s spirits still dwell in the mountains, the rivers and the gum tree!
I will leave you now to consider my words
and all that I ask, is that this story be heard.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Jean Lane, miniature work on spinifex paper.

Saturday morning and I am listening to Andrew Ford on the music show, talking about Stockhausen. It is quite bizar, how far from this world of blackstone is Stockhausen!

The advertisements have gone into the paper for workers at Blackstone. Art Workers for the paper business and outreach program and a new manager.

I had begun to think that I was never going to get the projects I have started, off the ground, the new building would never be finnished. Well things are moving on and now fresh blood is needed to pick up the pace. I have loved this job but someone with new energy will need to take it on now.

There are always big challenges, which for me, is part of the attraction.

I have a friend from Ringer's Soak coming up to help out while the staffing situation is sorted. I am really looking forward to this. Jenny is leaving Perth today and driving up in her red troupie, the mob will go wild for buying that one, hard to explain to the mob that not everyone wants to sell their yultu. I have the same problem with my little red 4 door toyota ute. She has picked up some very good quality plywood. We are going to get the artists to design and work the Wati Kutjarra design with hot wire on the ply and then bolt it to the new art centre building. It was kantjupayi Benson who was so despertae to get that Wati Kutjarra story on the front of our art centre, well it has only taken five years but by god we are going to get it there.

Jodie will be back for a few weeks with the bookbinding workshop, something we have talked of and dreamed of for some time. I am so excited about this project. There is so much interest in our paper products and this will be a great adjunct to the range.

On Friday I started setting up the paper finnishing room, there is still a lot to do on every facet of the move and set up, but Joy Lyons has agreed to act s supervisor for the paper project and I have a wonderful young woman called Valencia working in the art centre who shows great skill in just about any task I give her, be it cleaning, packaging, paint mixing or simply design work on the paper. I want to have everything nice for them on Monday to start work in earnest in the new building.

Spoke to Alison Kelly Gallery on Friday also. We will be doing some work with her in late 2008 and through 2009. I spoke about the fine art work we are developing with the paper as well. Exciting times!

Well Science Show time now after which I need to do a subtantial clean up in the house so that jenny and her dog have somewhere to settle for their stay.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Photo taken by Peter Shepherd at our fist business training session in 2004.

Papulankutja Artists is a small community based, indigenous owned art centre. This is not an easy thing to be.

Our Business plan states that our objective are...

"To promote art and craft activities that provide opportunities for community members to develop their skills and to participate in fulfilling activities.

To promote cultural maintenance through art and craft activities and strengthen the cultural resources in the community.

To foster an environment which develops self esteem by acknowledging the economic and social value of Aboriginal art, language and culture.

To facilitate the development and sale of art works for the benefit of the community.

Through the sale of art works to provide sustainable and meaningful employment opportunities for community people of Blackstone.

To promote the inter generational transfer of skills and experience to strengthen culture in the region."

The art centre is owned by the artists who work in it. It is a profit share business, where the artists invest 35% of the income from painting to the art centre for its operation. The art centre provides the facility, the materials, business equipment, runs a vehicle, organizes sales, exhibitions and so on. The intent is to be self funding but we do get some help from the taxpayer for operational purposes each year and for special projects, like our lovely new building.

We are a small, very remote centre, we produce some very important and stunning work, we produce some consistently nice presentable work and we produce some pretty ho hum work. Our charter is to give opportunity to everyone one who wants it. My instruction from the artists is to assist all comers. I can not "cherry pick" participants.

Sometimes we do not have work that is worthy of being put forward for major prizes or shows, sometimes we do.

This year I had two works that I considered putting up for Telstra. I was only considering it as such good works are also easy to sell and because we are small and always in need of sales, the money imperative is strong. Over Christmas a number of significant artists from surrounding communities came over, hungry, alone and with no easy way of facilitating paintings or sales. These were artists that we at Papulankutja consider family and who have a history of occasionally working at this art centre. I was happy to be here for them and was able to arrange some work and sales for them. During this time it came to my attention that works from their community would be put up to telstra. It was the decision maker for me. I chose to consider my two good pieces for other places.

My concern is one of transparency in business and a question of conflict of interest when a Gallery owner moves into "takes over" a community and then "cherry picks" the artists who will bring in the money. This disadvantages the community concerned and in particular the many who are disenfranchised from any capacity for meaningful employmet and social activity.

Artists are free to do as they please. This art centre seeks to educate its members in "whitefella" business, hopefully giving them the tools they need to make the best decision for their own development and for their families. When an artists moves, for what ever reason, to another community, the community art centres work together and assist each other as well as the artist concerned. We are not in competition with each other, we are here to assist the artists in the community. This may not always be convenient but it is the way it is. If an artists is ill and needs to be in a major township for long or short term, then the art centres seeks to make suitable arrangements with an art centre in town that can help both the artist and the community art centre.

The best income for the artists of the community and for the art centre comes from the known or money artists. 35% of $5000.00 for one sale is a hell of a lot better, economically, that 35% of multitudes of $200.00 sales. This is in money terms only, for the artist the sense of achievement and selfesteem from the sale and appreciation of your work can not be measured in dollar terms alone.

The art centre manager needs to think in dollar terms however, because the art centre manager needs to make ends meet.

Having one's artists raided and cherry picked, having their monetary value inflated by strange whitefella trading practices puts an unfair strain on the community art centre that has built the artists reputation and put the time and energy into their development, funded by the artists of the community who have invested 35% of their sales in their art centre.

It is difficult, due to the lack of transparency by the art traders concerned to know if the artists involved are in fact getting a fair deal, maybe they are. What value a Toyota or ten, who knows?!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

One Foot in front of the other.

The last months have been very difficult, I have been hit by a rather nasty bug, a difficult one to shake off and the culmination of a year working in conditions that I would not ask my pet pig to work in has worn me down. The artists have been pretty sick of it and while summer was dreadfull, the thermometer reaching 56 degrees C in our workspace on more than a hand full of occasions, the cold mornings that come with winter have made it increasingly difficult to face going into the little dark cage that we have laughily called the office.

Well, over the last couple of weeks I have been steadily moving the art centre into the new building which is (at last) finnished. There are jobs like clearling a bit of rubble, making the atco donga, now the Men's painting room, friendly and inviting, but over all, it is lovely. Slowly the artists are making their way to the new art centre door, cheered by the clean and warm environment. I have a couple of new community workers and all in all my dark mood is lifting.

Our fist NACIS funding payment from the commonwealth government has come through and this week I recieved notification of approval for the artists outreach program we have been struggling to get up and running for Jameson and Wingellina. I am thrilled beyond speach.

My friend Jennifer from Ringer Soak is coming up for a month to help me get a few things sorted and started and Jodi will be back in a couple of weeks to work with Biblio Folio on the spinifex paper specialist book binding project, Indigenous Volunteers are coming to our aid again and helping this project come to fruition.

The year is chocker with activity and things are looking good.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

A Bit blurry and the light was fading, this is a new dance, the tjanpi dance in recognigiton of the importance of weaving as a cottage industry for the ladies.

A Huge couple of weeks.
I am sorry I have not had time to get back on the activites of the Festival Week.

It was a great success and enormous fun from the opening night BBQ and welcoming Seven sisters dance, to the closing dance night. I have a few pictures here from the Festival and will put them in but the Walk started on Monday and is the current focus of the community.

Gerry and Tarn from the Melting Pot in Margaret River WA, get stuck into the ever popular glass jewellery making. We have a wonderful collection of glass beads to add to our spinifex beads, painted gum nut necklaces and earings. Everyone loves this activity, young and old, we all like to make something special for ourselves.

The ladies of the beauty salon ended up with some pretty spectacular hair colorings. The team worked tirelessly for days and the Blackstone ladies were thrilled with the end results.

Our volunteer men from the Landcruiser club got a good start on the verandar for the Tjilpi painting room.

Our Thursday Art Market was the best festival market we have had thus far and here you can see the Warakurna mob busy at work.

Our trusty weavers, always on the job and now weaving wildly in country as they break for lunch or at night to camp during "The Walk".

There are no words to tell of the joy and excitement over the Dance Event, kids, oldies, black and white, everyone joined in with gusto.

Many made camp as the night fell, the fires burned gaily and the dancers danced late into the night.

I will go out on Friday to join the mob on the walk, they have been fired up and are moving at a great rate of knots to their destination.

Friday, 2 May 2008

The Thisbe Artback caravan is gaining

The growing number of vehicles head today from Warakurna to Blackstone, then on to Wingellina for the final leg, before circling the wagons for the Papulankutja Happy Festival।

Celebration dancers at the end of the Walu Walk in 2006.
The children were learning from senior Ngaanyatjarra Lands women.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

I have been back from the Melbourne trip a busy few days. We had the opening of the Dickerson Exhibition, I had Freda Lane and Angilyiya Mitchell with me. I think it went well, we certainly had some lovely work there.

I was able to take the beautiful spinifex miniatures in to Chapman and Bailey for mounting, ready for the Melbourne Art Market as well as a good collection of smaller artworks for stretching.

It is always a bit testing travelling with artists, they find the environment strange and frightening, the main desire for the women is to go shopping and eat. We stayed at a lovely little apartment, close to many facilities and I was able to supply both the shopping expedition and plenty of tucka.

I took the women to the Aquarium, angilyiya in particular was stunned by the big sharks swimming above her head .... it was a joy to participate in this expidition.

The ladies back on the plane to Ayers Rock, I headed to Adelaide. I had the weekend in relative leisure with my daughter and grandson, then a frantic two days getting things ready for the Melbourne Art Market. I had arranged for paintings to be sent to my house in Adelaide so I could sort them and get the paperwork ready for the Melbourne market.

Back to Melbourne and in to meet Mike Stitfold from Kayili for our stall set up. A bigger job than either Mike or I expected but satisfying. I had gambled on presenting the miniature paper works in a more expensive setting, putting some of the name artists tiny works up against the major canvas artists. I really wanted to see how they would compete. I have to say in that market they competed very well indeed. I was thrilled to see the little Angilyiya Mitchell and Jean Lane works go to good homes. It was also fun at the market to meet with people who were loving the Blackstone work, buying from galleries and who I had never met.

After packing up I headed back to the rock on Tuesday, a big drive back to Blackstone on Wednesday and exhausted I was back in my ATCO donga at Blackstone.

Now it is on to the Blackstone Festival, a big party really, followed by the Blackstone Walk ....!!!!

A pretty happening place this Blackstone.