The Minyma Kutjara Arts Project is a new and exciting project initiated by the people and artists of Irrunytju.Irrunytju, or Wingellina Community is a small, very remote aboriginal community located 10kms from the tri-state border of WA, NT and SA. Named after the nearby Irrunytju rockhole, this was a popular area for Anangu (people) because of the permanent water in the foothills of the Tomkinson Range which is immediately south of the community.
Irrunytju was established as a community in 1975, with the first store and shed being built from the remnants of buildings at the nearby chrysoprase mine. There had been significant small-scale mining activity in the nearby hills since the 1950s, including copper, nickel and chrysoprase. There is currently exploration for nickel in the immediate surrounding area with the possibility of development of a large-scale mine being discussed.
Irrunytju is part of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands and is home to over 150 Anangu (people) who speak primarily Pitjantjatjara language, with some Ngaanyatjarra people also. It is a thriving community with its own community office, store, school, CDEP program, hall and airstrip. It is also the home of Ngaanyatjarra Media, the regional media organisation, that grew out of the Irrunytju Media program.
The Minyma Kutjara Project re-establishes Irrunytju as centre for dynamic and culturally important artwork. The Irrunytju paintings reflect the strong relationship between the artists, their country and culture. The artwork brings together contemporary painting techniques and media with ancient visual language and tjukurpa (dreaming).
“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, And 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.” - Karrika Belle Davidson, Irrunytju Artist
The Story of Minyma Kutjara
Minyma Kutjara (Two women) is one of the most important women’s creation stories of the Western and Southern deserts and a special story for Irrunytju. It tells the story of the difficult journey of two sisters who travelled throughout these vast lands.
This tjukurrpa tells how two sisters travelled north together. The big sister was taking the little sister to meet her family for the first time. She had been raised by others and did not want to leave them. They walked and walked and walked, stopping to do inma (sacred dancing and singing), to hunt and to sleep. The little sister was frightened. She cried and so the big sister carried her on her back and told her stories to placate her.
The places where the sisters travelled and rested can be traced through the desert, their actions often created landmarks, rock-holes and mountain ranges. Near Irrunytju the sisters sat on two hills and made hair belts in preparation for important women’s business. They threw their wana (digging stick) creating the rockhole here. They travelled to an area known as Mantaruta, near Uluru, where they had an encounter with a curious water snake (wanampi). They chased him deep into the ground trying to catch him. They burned their body hair to attract him and hit him on the head and ran away. From afar they threw a traditional head ring (manguri) which also hits him. Then he came and in revenge hit them all over. They continued they journey, bleeding and hurt, but triumphant.