Keith Stevens is a senior Pitjantjatjara man born in the far north of SA at Granite Downs station where his parents worked in the 1940’s. Following in his parents footsteps he was mustering at an early age and later attended school when his family moved to Ernabella mission. Keith’s family would travel for weekends to their traditional homelands of Piltati and Iwarrawarra. Later in his childhood, Keith’s father sat down with his family close to Piltati creek at what is now Nyapari Community. Keith is a respected elder and a strong community leader. Today Keith is a man of both worlds; a highly respected lore man and a Christian Pastor.
Keith is a skilled painter of his Tjukurpa in the modern medium of acrylics. His careful application of rich colour in intricate patterning, creates abstract topographical descriptions of the Piltati plateau and gully.
“Colour floods the landforms with the static tension of Tjukurpa creation energy metamorphosed into rocky and sandy creek beds. Finely drawn ancient motifs float on the painted ground. Traces of ancestral camps, footprints, spears and digging sticks. Energetic marks of the Tjukurpa recording the story of creation.” -Dr. Diana James.
Keith’s highly distinctive textured fields of colour evoke an ancient landscape, the country of the Tjukurpa. His intimate knowledge of his country is referenced in his works with important landmarks depicted across his canvases. These are dynamic works that have a magical quality which sing out and touch the viewer.
Keith comes from an artistic family, his mother Eileen Yaritja Stevens (dec) and his Uncles Tiger Palpatja and Ginger Wikilyiri are well known for their depictions of Piltati the ancestral story for Nyapari. Keith also paints the Tjukurpa of his traditional land Piltati. “Nyapari ngura ka Piltati ngura. Minyma kutjara nyinanyi waruangka. Kangkuru ini Wanyinta ka malanypa ini Alartjatjarra. Tjana Maliluku untalpa. Wati kutjara nyangatja, tjukurpa minymaku ngura minyma kutjara, minyma tjukurpa unngu. Tjana mukaringkula kilinangkupai maiku kukaku mukuringkula. Palumpa ngura ngara palulanguru tjana ankupai maiku kukaku mantjintjikitatja. Tjana wana katipai munu wira tjawantjakitjaku munu tjana katipai waru tjangi. Painta nyangatja Piltatiku tjukurpa. This is country for Nyapari and Piltati. The two women from Piltati are sitting by their fire. The elder sister is Wanyinta and the younger is Alartjatjarra. These are Malilu’s daughters. This is Piltati. There are two men here and two women. The womens story is underground. If people want meat or bush tucker they go to this place and clean around and talk to the area. From here those two women would go out and collect their food. They would carry a digging stick and collecting bowl and also a fire stick. This is Piltati story.”