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.