Saturday, 25 August 2012

Artist Profile - Ivy Laidlaw

Ivy Laidlaw, a Pitjantjatjara artist, was born around 1945 at a rockhole called Walpapulka near Irrunytju. Her mother was ill and unable to care for her when she was a baby so Ivy and her sister spent much of their early childhood at the mission at Warburton. Ivy spent some time at school and learnt English, hymns and Bible stories. Ivy frequently went back to her country with her family where she learnt tjukurpa and how to survive in the desert. When she grew up Ivy worked in the mission bakery and clinic before returning to Irrunytjy where she married Patju Presley who she knew from childhood days in the mission. 


Ivy was a founding member of Irrunytju Arts and is a highly regarded sculpture, weaver and storyteller. As well as developing her own art practise and participating in exhibitions, Ivy worked at Irrunytju Arts supprting the cultural development program and bush trips. Ivy ran workshops and taught emerging artists how to weave, where to find organic material; and how to make dyes, resins and traditional medicines. Some of Ivy’s paintings depict important tjukurpa relating to women’s business which are carefully stored and only taken out to teach the young women. Other’s illustrate dramatic tjukurpa narratives, structed like fables with strong moral overtones.

In May 2013  Ivy Laidlaw (with Evonne Lewis and Cynthia Burke) was selected  to represent The Tjanpi Desert Weavers at "Fingers and Petals - The Handmade Flower Show". As well as their work being exhibited they were involved in running flower-making workshops over two days as part of the event.

Artist Profile - Nancy Young

Nancy Young is a Pitjantjatjara artist who was born in 1960 in Armata. She is a prolific painter who paints everyday at Minyma Kutjara with her friend and cousin Diane Dawson.


Artist Profile - Roma Butler

Roma Nyutjangka Butler, an artist belonging to the Pitjantjatjara language and cultural group, was born in 1959 at Wilo rockhole, on the kanyala (euro kangaroo) tjukurpa track. Roma spent her early years at Ernabella mission in South Australia and then travelled by camel to Warburton in Western Australia, where she went to school and learnt to read and write. Irrunytju is her grandfather’s brother’s country. Roma works at Minyma Kutjara and with Ngaanyatjarra Media presenting a radio program of local music and news. She continues to practise traditional cultural activities including hunting and gathering bushfoods, singing and dancing inma.

Roma has been taught to paint and tell the stories of the tjukurpa by the minyma pampa (old women), especially Kuntjil Cooper. Roma is a powerful story-teller and her paintings focus on the drama, graphic and emotional intensity of incidents and relationships in tjukurpa narratives.

Artist Profile - Karrika Belle Davidson

“My country is Pulpul where there is a big rockhole. Auntie heard all of the people chasing her nephew. They thought he was a malu because he was dressed in a kangaroo skin. When she heard them coming closer auntie thumped on the ground so that they could all get to the water through a tunnel under the groun. When they went through the tunnel auntie blocked the way so that they could not get out. Men, women and children. They are still there. When I was a child we used to go in through the tunnel to get water with a firebrand to them away.”

 Karrika Belle Davidson, Pitjantjatjara woman, was born around 1942 at Pulpul rock near Papulankutja (Blackstone). When she was a child her mother died and Karrika, her sister Tjawina Roberts and borther Tjurparu  Watson were taken to Warburton mission by family. Karrika learnt to read and write at the mission and has fond memories of her time there. She frequently went back to her country where she was taught how to survive in the desert and the tjukurpa associated with it. When Karrika was sixteen she went to live with family at Patinintjara, the first community established at Papulankutja, where she worked as a housemaid for the manager of the recently established nickel mine.

Karrika recalls camping in the bush near Warburton with her first son and other anangu as a young mother when the atomic bombs were exploded at Maralinga. She and many others became very ill and were picked up by the Native Patrol truck and driven to Warburton mission where sick anangu were lying in every building including the school classrooms.

As a powerful speaker  Karrika is a great advocate for anagu. Karrika  was a founding member of Irrunytju Arts and Chair of Ngaanyatjarra Media. She is an excellent storyteller and knows the complex layers pf many tjukurpa that traverse and intersect in the region. She lives with her family in Irrunytju where she works as a painter, translator and producer of stort documentaries about local culture. Karrika has been involved in many events including the development of inma performances and participating in the opening event of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

“Painting - is very important because it is about the land of the oldies, they make up stories, do painting. It is very important to them, to us, to everyone. Some are people doing their own stories by thinking, doing the painting of the country that belongs to the oldies. Because the oldies know the stories of the country. It is very important for the story that they do the painting, It’s important that they think about the country, how it is. It’s the heart of the people, it belongs to them, Abd the oldies know, It’s very true. They don’t it by anybody telling them, they know. They know the country is very important to them and to everybody.” 

Artist Profile - Emily Gorey

Emily was born in the bush at Puluki near Papunya, N.T. My brother was born at Papunya. I went to school at Papunya and Haast Bluff School. Then I went to Alice Springs Tragger Park School and then Yirara College in Alice Springs. After School I went back home to Papunya, then Mt Hiebek where I was a teacher’s aid. I took the kids camping on bush trips, hunting and cooking. Teaching the children and being a good role model. Then I came to Irrunytju to stay with my two aunties and Uncles Diane and Anthony and Elizabeth Dawson.

My grandfather taught me to paint and to tell stories. Us children we would sit down on the ground next to him and listen and watch him paint and learn. “You listen and you do it”, he said.

Artist Profile - Hinerangi Tukere

“We all live underneath the same sky.”

New Zealand born, Hinerangi Tukere came to Irrunytju in 2004. This country has become her new home and she lives here with her partner, an Irrunytju native and their two children. Hinerangi paints combining the two styles of her Maori homeland and the new country and cultures of Irrunytju that have become her own. 

Hinerangi talks about her painting, “The Burnt Place”:

“These are the things I have learnt going on bush trips to Watarru with the Minyma in my new country. Ivy Laidlaw, my mother-in-law and her friends. This is where the fire starts and then it spreads across the land. The white colour is the trees which after the fire leave white ash. Here are the rockholes and wildflowers. See over here where it is still green. We found this place where the fire hadn’t touched. This is where we discovered mingalpa (bush tobacco) alongside the creek bed. “