Opening on Friday 12 August, Jila Kujarra | Two Snakes Dreaming is a dynamic cross-cultural collaboration between Warnman artist Desmond Taylor and Boorloo-based textiles practitioner Mariaan Pugh.

Taylor and Pugh have worked together to transform Taylor’s Niminjarra paintings, usually seen on canvas or paper, into ten large-scale textile works, reanimating the important Niminjarra Jukurrpa (Dreaming).

The exhibition is the realisation of a long-held vision Taylor, a prolific painter who works with Martumili Artists. It continues the practice of cultural and creative exchange driven by the arts centre in recent years, with the intent of sharing Martu art, language, culture and stories with new national and international audiences.

“The idea for the rugs came many years ago when I was looking at different ways of trying to find my own style of artwork and create a pathway for my work,” says Taylor.

“I always wanted to concentrate on one Jukurrpa, one storyline of a Dreaming path that our people are descendants of. Sharing this story is about giving people the opportunity to learn about the first culture that’s been in Australia before settlement.”

Desmond’s exquisitely detailed Niminjarra paintings follow the Jukurrpa (Dreaming story) of two brothers, who transform into snakes so they can return home to Ngayartakujarra (Lake Dora), a sacred part of Martu Country.

Made by hand with painstaking precision, Mariaan Pugh has translated Taylor’s paintings into large scale tufted rugs. Displayed side by side in the exhibition, audiences will be wowed by their extraordinary likeness and the incredible craftsmanship of each distinct medium.

“It’s been a joy and a privilege to work with Desmond to expand his practice into an entirely new medium,” says textile artist, fashion
designer and educator Mariaan Pugh.

“Given the cultural significance of his works, I’ve been careful to stay true to his paintings as much as the medium allows, although we’ve had to make a few tweaks here and there.”

“I really love the practice of tufting, it’s a highly tactile medium and it’s so satisfying to see the design come to life, thread by thread. It can take upwards of a week just to complete one rug.”

According to FAC Curator Visual Arts Glenn Iseger-Pilkington, “This exhibition represents the ambition of a Martu artist to tell his Dreaming stories in a way that increases the accessibility and reach of his paintings beyond a canvas.”

“It also demonstrates the importance of fostering cross-cultural collaborations in ways that are ethical and culturally sensitive, that show respect for culture while opening up new income streams and possibilities for First Nations artists.”

Jila Kujarra: Two Snakes Dreaming opens 6:30pm, Friday 12 August alongside A Gentle Misinterpretation: Australian Artists and Chinoiserie and Tania Ferrier: Pop Porn. The exhibitions are then open 10am – 5pm daily until Sunday 23 October.

A series of public programs will run in conjunction with the exhibition, including Artist Talk | Jila Kujarra: Two Snakes Dreaming + Tania Ferrier: Pop Porn on Saturday 13 August. Please visit fac.org.au for more information.

For interviews or further information please contact Media Officer Rosamund Brennan via [email protected] or +61 (8) 9432 9565

Hero image: Mariaan Pugh & Desmond Taylor, Niminjarra, 2022, assorted yarn, monks cloth. © Courtesy the artists. A collaborative project between the artists, Fremantle Arts Centre and Martumili Artists, 2020-22.