by Leopold Fiala
‘Painting on Country’ is a project that gives the artists of Tjungu Palya the opportunity to work directly with their native landscapes, to tell their stories. The project was born when senior law man, Keith Stevens, began a conversation about finding opportunities to work on country in the way that his ancestors once did. Inspired by the success of the Kulata Juta project, Keith feels he and other senior artists have a very special and intimate knowledge of the landscapes surrounding Nyapari, Kanpi and Watarru and that they want to share, through their artwork, some of the special places, natural materials and culturally appropriate Tjukurpa contained within these spaces.
In order to give form to Keith’s vision we worked with four senior
artists to identify several sites, appropriate for the creation and documentation of ephemeral artworks drawn with the natural white pigment ‘tutu’. These drawings were temporary, and have since washed away with the first summer rains. They are however immortalized and shown to the world through a series of stunning large format photographs made under the direction of Anangu with the help of photographer Leopold Fiala.
Painting on Country seamlessly combines very old stories and drawing techniques with cutting edge photographic technology, allowing the Tjungu Palya artists to highlight the beautiful diversity of their
desert home, with its unique light and landforms, whilst using their exceptional cultural knowledge and highly sought after drawing and painting skills. The project also provides a much-needed opportunity for senior artists to lead young artists and art workers on bush trips, encouraging direct cultural exchange and adding another dimension to the working patterns of the art center. It also ensures that age-old techniques for creating rock drawings are passed on to the next generation and, most importantly, that these stories are communicated to young men and women on country, during the bush trips.
PMB 126 via Alice Springs
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