MELBOURNE- 19 October 2016


The lands of the Anangu peoples of the tri-state border, where the Gibson Desert in Western Australia meets the APY Lands in the adjacent Great Victoria Desert, cover an area of nearly half a million square kilometres. The Anangu of the Gibson Desert live in some of the most isolated communities in the country. While aware of developments in the public painting movement at Papunya and elsewhere, they were either reluctant, or not sufficiently resourced, to form their own artists’ cooperatives until relatively recently. Nonetheless, in 1990 artists living at Warburton in the Gibson Desert, Jackie Giles Tjapaltjarri and Roy Underwood amongst them, produced a series of collaborative canvases to encourage ceremonial activity and educate the young in the Tjukurrpa. The Spinifex People who inhabit an area to the south, had been forced off their lands in the 1950s to make way for atomic bomb testing. Most now live at Tjuntjuntjara, east of Kalgoorlie. In 1997 they embarked on a project to describe their relationship to their ancestral lands in paint on canvases that were produced as evidence in Native Title hearings. Title to their lands was officially recognised in the year 2000. The success of the Warburton and Spinifex Projects encouraged other Gibson Desert communities to establish art centres across this vast region, including Kayili Artists at Patjarr in 2004 (home of Esther Giles and Nola Campbell) and Warakurna Artists in 2005.

The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara local government region (referred to as the APY Lands) covers an area of over 100,000 square kilometres of the Great Victoria Desert in the north-western corner of South Australia. It includes a number of well-established art centres such as Iwantja Arts at Indulkana, Kaltjiti Arts and Crafts at Fregon, Tjungu Palya at Nyapari and Mimili Maku, home of Tuppy Goodwin and Milatjari Pumani. The oldest art centre in the country is Ernabella Arts, established in 1948: artists here only commenced painting in acrylic on canvas in 2009, the transition quickly produced startling results as witnessed by nonagenarian Dickie Minyintiri who won the Telstra national Indigenous art award only two years later in 2011.