Bush Women: 25 Years On Co-Curator and former Fremantle Arts Centre Exhibition Coordinator, John Kean has donated an impressive work by senior WA Aboriginal artist Paji Honeychild Yankarr to the City of Fremantle Art Collection.

The exhibition brings back together many of the original works from Bush Women: Fresh Art from Remote WA. Originally exhibited in 1994, the exhibition featured paintings by six senior WA Aboriginal artists from the Kimberley and Western Desert region.

Paji Honeychild Yankarr was among the most senior and minimal of the Mangkaja painters to have emerged from Fitzroy Crossing in the early 1990s. Yankkarr grew up in the Western Desert and began painting later in life at the Karrayili Adult Education Centre in Fitzroy Crossing and was represented by Mangkaja Arts. Her paintings focused on waterholes, the vital and changing lifeblood of the region. She took an elevated viewpoint, her free brushstrokes mapped out the vitality lent by the water to the surrounding land, whilst always remaining tactile. The donated work titled Nurti (1993) is a particularly fine example of Yankarr’s work and depicts a well where there is sufficient water to quench the thirst of weary travellers.

“I chose to donate this work to the City of Fremantle collection as an acknowledgement of my own association with Fremantle Arts Centre,” said Kean. “It was a great thrill when I heard that Bush Women was to be reprised in 2018. The gift is in recognition of that honour. I trust Paji Honeychild’s Nurti will fill an important gap in the collection and that it stands as a reminder of the late January day in 1994 when the original ‘bush women’ gathered in the courtyard at FAC to celebrate their emergence as senior West Australian artists.”

City of Fremantle Art Collection Curator, André Lipscombe described the donation as a generous addition.

“This painting is a strong work by Paji Honeychild Yankarr (1912-2004), a significant Mangkaja artist. Nurti was originally showcased in the 1993 FAC exhibition Mangkaja Women and through John’s generosity the work has been returned to the City of Fremantle.”

Nurti is currently displayed in the reception area of Fremantle Arts Centre, where it will remain on display until Bush Women: 25 Years On closes on Sat 8 Sep.