Marra (Catch It), Photo: Gabrielle Sullivan
don't need a map brought the lively and enduring culture of the Martu –
the traditional owners of a vast area of WA’s Western Desert.
remarkable exhibition included the work of more than 30 artists and explored the
Martu people, their way of life, the way they care for country and belong to
well as illustrating the distinct contemporary visual language of the Martu,
this landmark event broke down barriers by bringing together Martu and other
artists to collaborate and exhibit together.
exhibition featured stunning paintings, cutting-edge media collaborations,
finely wrought objects, aerial desert photography, bush tucker and talks with
the Martu artists and rangers.
by Erin Coates; FAC Exhibitions Coordinator, Kathleen Sorensen; Martu artist
and Cultural Consultant and Gabrielle Sullivan; Martumili Artists Manager. This
project was a partnership between FAC, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa and Martumili
Artists. It was made possible with support from BHP Billiton Iron
Karlamilyi - Amy French & Lily Long
enormous, gorgeous painting by sisters Amy French and Lily Long testified to
the vitality and diversity of indigenous painting in the Pilbara.
Karlamilyi is a complex and layered
work, brimming with knowledge about native animals and plants, journeys through
country, ancestral beings, waterholes and landforms.
and Long's distinct visual language challenge notions of desert painting,
blending figurative and abstract imagery to present an energised landscape
that is filled with elements of the seen and unseen world.
and senior Martu translators worked with the artists to generate interpretative
information about the stories and knowledge embedded in this significant
painting. Karlamilyi was presented with an interpretive
wall diagram and accompanied by recordings of French and Long singing.
Cannnibal Story: The paintings of Yunkurra Billy Atkins as
Kumpupirntily (Lake Disappointment) is
beautiful and dangerous country; below its surface live powerful cannibal
beings. This is Yunkurra Billy Atkins’ country, a senior Martu man, painter,
carver and storyteller, whose striking paintings are brought to life by
award-winning animator Sohan Ariel Hayes.
Depicting armies of honey ants, goannas, Martu weaponry and cannibals
descending upon Kumpupirntily, Cannibal
sound and motion to Yunkurra’s wondrous, original paintings.
Martu have a unique painting practice which is rapidly gaining international
attentions. More than 40 works were selected for the exhibition, ranging from
illustrative snapshots of ordinary daily life, such as camel hunts and desert
football matches, to hypnotically beautiful paintings by senior artists.
artworks were suffused with the Martu’s experience of the Western Desert and
explore major sites, ancestoral stories, land use, fire burning practices and
life in these remote communities.
The Phone Booth Project: Lily Hibberd & Curtis Taylor
the humourous, colloquial and adaptable nature of communication across the vast
Western Desert, The Phone Booth Project featured a Pilbara phone booth,
large-scale projections and multi-lingual dialogues.
collaboratively, Martu filmmaker Curtis Taylor and established Melbourne artist
Lily Hibberd presented a video installation which explored communication and
the use of phone booths in the remote desert communities.
Video installation: Lynette Wallworth
acclaimed artist Lynette Wallworth is renowned for her immersive video
installations. Invited by Martu artists to respond to country, the Sydney-based
artist travelled to Martu country with community members and long time
collaborator Pete Brundle to learn about the Martu. The resulting work drew viewers into
an understanding of the Martu and their inextricable connection to the Western
Desert, via the eyes and ears of a newcomer to that country.
Portraits of The Mob: Tobias Titz
direct and striking photographic portraits of the Martu artists and rangers were
accompanied by their words and drawings. Photographer Titz (GER/AUS) has worked
in the Pilbara for several years.
The Western Desert from Above
vast expanses of the desert, ancient waterways, salt flats and ridges of sand
hills featured in this series of aerial photographs that capture Martu country.
An accompanying animated map detailed the layered complexity of the Western
Desert, showing family travel routes and the movement of the Martu rangers as
they care for country.
Martu baskets and carvings
wrought baskets, expertly carved wooden spears, karli (Martu boomerang) and grass sandles
showcased how the Martu blend
traditional skills with new materials and techniques.
Giant inflatable basket: Thelma Judson
on a hand-made basket by Martu artist Thelma Judson, this giant, playful
structure invited visitors inside.
the entrance of the grounds, the Pilbara Garden celebrated the arrival of the
Martu Mob at FAC and brought the colours and flora of the Western Desert to
16 November - 20 January, 2012