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Spinifex Hill Artists

We Call it Home


TABLE OF

6

Foreword Jimmy Wilson, BHP Billiton

CONTENTS 8 12

Map Spinifex Hill Studios: Contemporary Aboriginal Art of the Pilbara

22

Walking Around Everywhere: Country

38

This Here: Hedland

46

Everlasting: Medicine and Tucker

58

Biggest Mob: Family and Connection

70

Anything Colours: Painting at Spinifex Hill Studios

80

From the Studios Greg Taylor

90

Looking Forward

92

Glossary

94

Acknowledgements

WARNING: THIS BOOK MAY CONTAIN IMAGES, NAMES, AND STORIES OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY.

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We Call It Home

Spinifex Hill Artists |

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| We Call It Home

Susan McCulloch OAM


| We Call It Home

5 Spinifex Hill Artists |

Doreen Chapman, Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 75.5 x 152cm, 2015


foreword Jimmy Wilson President, BHP Billiton Iron Ore


BHP Billiton is very proud of the part the company has played (and continues to play) in bringing about this Western Australian success story. Since the mid-2000s, our award-winning partnership with FORM has focused on delivering outcomes that encourage people and places to reach their full potential.

The paintings are expansive and generous. They interpret stories of family, place and culture through bold shapes, texture and patterning, and abundant, uninhibited pigment. Early in the Spinifex Hill Artists’ story, the confident use of colour became a hallmark of the group’s style, and here we see their fearless and exuberant palate, as vivid as the Pilbara itself. That the group is flourishing surely cannot be in any doubt: this exhibition is compelling evidence of that. Spending time with these artists, their paintings and their stories, we become acquainted with their resilience and dignity. We are welcomed to their home.

| We Call It Home

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Over a year later, we are privileged to see the impact that a stable, purpose-built base has had on unifying artistic output. The individuals who have produced the work for this extraordinary exhibition come from many different places and backgrounds. Though they may regard this part of the Pilbara as their home, they originate from all parts of the region and beyond. As the Spinifex Hill Artists, they explore, side-by-side, a range of expression that draws much of its vibrancy and power from this place they share.

Supporting the establishment of a permanent home for Aboriginal art development was for us, part of a longterm vision to make Port and South Hedland a key link in the cultural, social and artistic infrastructure of the Pilbara. The only professional Aboriginal artists’ group in Hedland, the Spinifex Hill Artists originated in 2008 through a start-up venture, initiated by FORM and supported by BHP Billiton. This venture aimed to offer local Aboriginal people—emerging and beginner artists specifically— the opportunity for social interaction and professional development through creativity. With FORM’s guidance, the members of this fledgling group brokered their own understanding and exploration of a Hedland Aboriginal artistic vernacular, and over time progressed from novice status to the accomplished and independent practitioners they are today.

Spinifex Hill Artists |

The opening of the Spinifex Hill Studios in March 2014 not only signified the establishment of a new cultural landmark for the Pilbara, it also founded a permanent base for one of Western Australia’s most dynamic emerging Aboriginal art collectives, the Spinifex Hill Artists (Spinifex Hill being an old name for Port Hedland). The future of a Hedland-grown success story seemed assured, and better still, these studios were somewhere that the artists, developing their distinctive style and perspective, could call ‘home’.


6 23

14

12

25 8

1

28 24

19 17

4

16

9 3

Canning Stock Route

22 20 5

15

39 26

2

18

41

27

21

46

10 11

7

43

Perth

13

Art centres

1

Bidyadanga Community Artists, Yulparija Artists

11

Minyma Kutjara Artists

21

Walkatjurra Cultural Centre

12

Mowanjum Aboriginal Art

22

Warakurna Artists

13

Mungart Boodja Art Centre

23

Waringarri Aboriginal Arts

14

Nagula Jarndu

24

Warlayirti Artists

25

Warmun Art Centre

26

Wirnda Barna Artists

27

Yamaji Art

28

Yarliyil Art Centre

(17)

Yinjaa-Barni Art

* While these art centres are based outside of Western Australia, they have artists in their membership that are based within the State’s borders.

2

Birriliburu Artists,

3

Gwoonwardu Mia

4

Karntimarta Brush Artists

5

Kayili Artists

6

Kira Kiro Artists

7

Laverton Leonora Cross Cultural Association

18

Spinifex Arts Project

8

Mangkaja Arts

19

Spinifex Hill Artists

9

Martumili Artists

(16)

Tjanpi Desert Weavers*

10

Maruku Uluru*

20

Tjarlirli Art

Tjukurba Gallery

and Culture Centre

15

Papulankutja Artists

16

Papunya Tula*

17

Roebourne Art Group


12 14

36

1

52

32 34 19

4

49

33 17

31

51 29

37

51 38 42

54

30

40

50

44

35

48

47 52 53 45

places

(1)

Bidyadanga

35

KilyKily/ Well 36

41

Mingenew

48

Red Hill Station

53

Well 32

29

Brockman River

36

Kunmunya (Myroodah Station)

42

Moolyella

(17)

Roebourne

(2)

Wiluna

(14)

Broome

37

Lalla Rookh

(9)

Newman

(30)

Running Water

54

Yandeyarra

30

Carawine

(36)

Liveringa

43

Northam

49

Strelley

31

Carlindi

44

Oakover River

50

Telfer

32

Condon

45

Parnngurr

(25)

Warmun

33

Cossack

46

Perth

(4)

Warralong

34

De Grey River

(19)

Port Hedland

51

Warrawagine Station

(12)

Derby

47

Punmu

52

Well 31

(36)

Looma

38

Marble Bar

39

Meekatharra

40

Millstream Chichester National Park

(*) places listed in brackets share a location with others listed.


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| We Call It Home


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Beryl Ponce, Moon and Skies: Our times table, acrylic on canvas, 61 x 61cm, 2014, (detail)


Doreen Chapman, Untitled, acrylic on linen, 91 x 122cm, 2015

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‘Spinifex Hill Studios [ARE] one of Australia’s newest, and most impressive, art centres and the most recent in a long line of distinguished forebears of Aboriginal art centres in Western Australia.’

Inside the spacious white-walled studio, an air of quiet creativity pervades as some 10 artists concentrate on their latest paintings on canvas or paper, spread out along long wide tables. This is Spinifex Hill Studios, one of Australia’s newest, and most impressive, art centres and the most recent in a long line of distinguished forebears of Aboriginal art centres in Western Australia.

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Susan McCulloch OAM

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Contemporary Aboriginal art of the Pilbara

On a bright dry-season day all is quiet in the grounds of the studio and art complex in South Hedland. The green of a well-tended lawn provides contrast to the mineral-rich red earth surrounds, while tomatoes and leafy greens thrive in raised corrugated iron planting beds. Two striking curved wiltjas (shelters), designed by local Aboriginal artist Winnie Sampi in the shape of a cockle shell (a favourite bush food), offer a unique take on the traditional bough shelter as they provide protection from the breeze and shade from the intense afternoon sun. The distinctive incised designs of the studio’s entrance sign by the late Esther Quintal resemble the shaded walkways in the main streets of Port Hedland, designed by another Spinifex Hill Artist, Ann Sibosado.

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Spinifex Hill Studios:


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The development of modern Aboriginal art in Western Australia has been one of diversity and constant evolution—as varied as the geography of the State itself and its many Aboriginal language groups. Notable art movements have included those in the Kimberley—from North that feature the creation/fertility spirits the Wandjina and the wraith-like Gwion Gwion figures, to East Kimberley’s ochre school made famous by Rover Thomas, Jack Britten, Queenie McKenzie, Paddy Bedford, Lena Nyadbi, and others, to the colourful acrylics of Fitzroy Crossing, Balgo Hills, and Bidyadanga. The large canvases made at the central inland town of Warburton in the early 1990s sparked an innovative school of painting that spread east throughout the Pitjantjatjara lands, while the collaborative canvases of the Spinifex Arts Project based at Tjuntuntjatjara in the Great Victoria Desert led to a successful native title claim and the establishment of a significant school of painting. More recently, art centres have been established by Birriliburu Artists at Wiluna, Wirnda Barna Artists at Mount Magnet, Yamaji Art in Geraldton, Roebourne Art Group at Roebourne (Yirramagadu), Walkatjurra Cultural Centre (WCC) of the Goldfields region at Leonara and the Noongar people’s Mungart Boodja Art Centre in Albany.

Of pivotal significance in the contemporary history of Aboriginal art has been the post-2000 development of art in the Pilbara. The region’s Martu people—encompassing Manyjilyjarra, Kartujarra, Putijarra and Warnman language speakers—are the traditional owners of a vast area of the Great Sandy, Little Sandy, and Gibson Deserts. Many Martu ceased living a pujiman (entirely traditional, desert) life only in the 1950s and 1960s, and many continue to have significant and ongoing relationships to their birthplaces, Country, and sacred sites. In the early 2000s, after debating the desirability of establishing a contemporary art practice, the Martu commissioned art workshops at Parnngurr (370km east of Newman) followed by two inaugural exhibitions at the Courthouse Gallery in Port Hedland in 2003. Shortly after, Martumili Artists was established. Based in Newman, Martumili set up art spaces and studios to enable artists to work in their communities of Parnngurr, Punmu, Kunawarritji, Jigalong, Irrungadji/ Nullagine and Parnpajinya/Newman. The result has been a diverse, individual and dynamic new school of art marked by intensely-coloured, luminous canvases. Some detailed in design, others more abstract, these have included vast collaborative works that have featured in major exhibitions such as FORM and the National Museum of Australia’s 2010-2013 Yiwarra Kuju: the Canning Stock Route— resulting from a project of major significance that married art, culture, and story—the Fremantle Art Centre’s 20132015 We Don’t Need a Map and Martu: art from the Western Desert at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 2014.


Officially opened in March 2014, the state of the art complex Spinifex Hill Studios comprises two professional studio spaces, an art centre manager’s residence, professional-standard artwork storage facilities, a shaded outdoor area and garden that features sculptures developed through FORM’s Land.Mark.Art program (a professional development stream for Aboriginal artists to enter the public art market and make significant contributions to the local built environment). Within Australia’s Indigenous art spectrum that currently comprises some 130 art centres, Spinifex Hill Studios are unique, although they bear some similarities to Alice Spring’s Tangentyere Artists.

Like the Port Hedland collective, Tangentyere represents a wide variety of town-based artists of different language groups and heritage and operates from a recently-opened purpose-built building.

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The title of the show comes from young Noongar Martu artist Annabella Flatt’s We call it home, in which she sets down the iconography of meeting places and traveling lines with precision. While Flatt and some other Spinifex Hill Artists are relative newcomers to the art exhibiting scene, others come with a significant artistic pedigree. Nancy Ngarnjapayi Chapman and her sister, May Maywokka Chapman were already well established painters with Martumili Artists before recently coming to Port Hedland, their works included in leading private and public gallery exhibitions and acquired by public collections. Here, in paintings such as Yinta [waterhole in home Country] and the large Mummy’s Land, May Chapman shows a practised confidence in the blending and layering of a great variety of colours.

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Spinifex Hill’s core group comprises approximately 30 artists, with a total of around 95 regular and semi-regular painters. Twenty artists are represented in We Call it Home, the group’s first major group exhibition since the new studio was established.

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Concurrent with the growth of this movement discussions were being held in Port Hedland by town-based Aboriginal residents such as Irene Coffin, Max George, and members of the Mothers Against Drugs group. FORM organised a series of workshops and the group quickly blossomed, holding their first solo exhibition, Before the Town Got Big, at the Courthouse Gallery in 2010. For five years the artists and support staff operated out of the hall of South Hedland’s Aboriginal church, packing and unpacking art materials for each workshop. By 2011 it was clear there was significant interest in establishing an ongoing art practice by both the town’s permanent Aboriginal population and those from outlying communities living in town for extended periods for educational, health, employment, and family reasons.


‘Maggie Green… is rapidly becoming a master colourist in her use of beautifully blended softer hues of browns, pinks, Spinifex Hill Artists |

yellows and reds and bold, bright purples,

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greens and yellows.’

Doreen Chapman, May’s daughter, is one of the group’s most experimental and varied artists. As a mute woman, for Chapman painting is a crucial medium of communication and storytelling, her works ranging from the almost entirely abstract, characterized by loose brush work and dense texture, to quirky figurative depictions of indigenous animals, birds and flora.

| We Call It Home

Chapman’s uncle, Minyawe Miller (married to Nancy Ngarnjapayi Chapman) grew up in the Punmu area with his sister, Nancy Taylor (a founding Martumili artist). As a young man, Miller walked long distances carrying only his tajitaji (smouldering stick) and jurna (hunting stick). He was an excellent horse rider and breaker and worked on pastoral stations for many years, including the Aboriginal enterprise Strelley Station. His intimate knowledge of the land results in works of bold clarity in Western Desert style design, or those more intricately layered such as Jimirti, a lusciously-coloured, finelydotted work that pays homage to the grandparent / grandchild lineage. Representational landscapes feature in the work of Winnie Sampi and William Nyapuru Gardiner, both of whom paint their Country from memory. Sampi’s small work Country no longer the same where my old people once walked and hunted shows the great sense of perspective and poignancy that characterises her work. Artist,


| We Call It Home

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Maggie Green, Learning us for working, acrylic on canvas, 91.5 x 91.5cm, 2015, (detail)


storyteller and linguist William Nyaparu Gardiner paints scenes from his childhood in the late 1940s and 1950s, after the Pilbara Aboriginal strike of 1946, remembering places like De Grey River, which he depicts just as the setting sun throws the landforms into high relief, and his grandfather as a hunter in his Country around the Canning Stock Route.

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Beryl Ponce’s abstract, Moons and Skies: Our times table reinforces the Aboriginal concept of time told only by the moon and stars while Teddy Byrne says his abstract Mingenew (me and you) is about matters of the heart and the obstacles of cultural, language and other differences that two people need to overcome to become one.

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Maggie Green, one of the Studio’s most stalwart core artists, paints sophisticated planar landscapes of her birthplace, Myroodah Station; the densely layered lines of her surfaces are reminiscent of close weave stitching and imbue her works with texture and depth. Green, who last year won the Kathy Donnelly Judges Award at the 2014 Hedland Art Awards is also rapidly becoming a master colourist in her use of beautifully blended softer hues of browns, pinks, yellows and reds and bold, bright purples, greens and yellows. There is a great sense of energy, of joyful engagement and experimentation in the diverse works of this nascent art centre as artists try new methods of expression while simultaneously re-engaging with their own past and heritage. As the art centre notes,

“These stories do not have a neat beginning, middle and end, each running smoothly from one another, but are told from all angles, all viewpoints, all moments in time, and many places.” Above all, there is an inspirational optimism here at Spinifex Hill Studios as well as an urgency to create, to put stories down for posterity, to express oneself artistically in ways that both reinforce culture and take it to the world at large, all qualities that have been key factors in the early days of all the great art movements of Aboriginal Australia.


| We Call It Home

‘There is a great sense of energy, of joyful

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engagement and

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experimentation in the diverse works of this nascent art centre as artists try new methods of expression while simultaneously re-engaging with their own past and heritage.’ Minyawe Miller, Jamirti, acrylic on canvas, 91.5 x 91.5cm, 2014


we call it home


We Call It Home explores the nuanced meanings of home to the Spinifex Hill Artists. Through their paintings the artists share with us stories about their lives, and their relationship to Country in Port Hedland and across Western Australia. Through their rich and evocative canvases we gain a great insight into the depths of connections and knowledge that these artists hold to their Country. Home and belonging is conceived in this work not only as a relationship to place, but also through the integral value of connections formed with family, and through storytelling, and painting. The works and stories are grouped together here according to the aspects of home that they explore. For the Spinifex Hill Artists painting and storytelling is a powerful tool through which they can share knowledge with younger generations, and also communicate to others about their way of life and their complex and resonant cultural and personal identities.


Walking Around Everywhere:

All of the artworks that are part of this exhibition have been painted in South Hedland, however, most are about places elsewhere. The artists at Spinifex Hill are from all across Western Australia and they have come together in Hedland.

Country

The Spinifex Hill Artists’ paintings often reflect personal memories of being in Country, as well as Dreaming stories which describe the origins of this land, and how it was formed. Often these stories conflate into mythologies of place that impact directly on the lives of the people who live there. The Aboriginal relationship to Country is something that is experienced and enacted through storytelling, ceremony, hunting, and in contemporary times, painting. Aboriginal paintings of place do more than represent a location or memory, they play an important role in the maintenance, demonstration, and sharing of culture. Country is translated in multiple Western Aboriginal languages as Ngurra. This word describes the fundamental connection between place and identity; Ngurra translates to both Country and home. Understanding this is central to understanding the culture and values of Aboriginal people in the Pilbara and across the Western Desert. Painting about Country and home has become part of the maintenance of culture and the understanding of land. In these paintings and accompanying stories you will find a great celebration and respect for Country, often accompannied by a sense of loss in being away from home.


Biddy Thomas Top end of Moolyella, 2014

Acrylic on Canvas 61 x 76 cm

This gotta be the top end of Moolyella. It’s a rockhole, waterhole. We used to walk there, get them kangaroo,

This was around the seaside, Condon [also known as Condini Landing, Shellborough]. Big mob was

there. My brother David was there, all the bosses,

man bosses. The bosses was looking after the boys

and they’d go out to sea, get them shell with the little

egg [pearls]. Put him in the tin and sell them, because that’s all we can do. The women did that too, looking for shell. My big sister another side got bit by a sea thing and died.

Don McLeod he was helping us with the foods, and

he got put in jail in Hedland for that. We not allowed to Broome, not allowed to another place. We was

blocked, you know? Don McLeod helped us with

that too, but he went to prison for that. All the black people went marching out to the jail to get him out.

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we can’t get much food, you know?

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gone now. We was hunting around for meat because

| We Call It Home

goanna. Me and my husband Billy Thomas – but he’s


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| We Call It Home


Selena Brown Marble Bar, My Country, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 92 x 152.5 cm

We was going up and down, me and Clara [Selena’s twin sister].

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Marble Bar, my Country.

| We Call It Home

We was staying in a hostel in


Maggie Green We been born there, grow there, eat there, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 76 x 125 cm

Myroodah Station, Kunmunya: we been born there, grow there, eat there. That’s the school

what we go there, little kids’ time. We been mad Spinifex Hill Artists |

for playing round for the sand then. When we knock off the school we play around.

After manager been leave us we been pull out,

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Green family they been shipped to Looma. We

| We Call It Home

been start schooling there. We go to Camp Allen. They take out all the kids for movie, to pictures

every night on Wednesday. We see him rodeo too. We been have no house, we live in tent in Looma. We cooking on ground, we make a fire.

When everything finished we been leaving that home now, my family, my friends. We been sad for that station.


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| We Call It Home


Teddy Byrne Mingenew, 2015 Mixed Media on Canvas 61 x 66 cm

Mingenew - in a joking way we say

that means me and you, in our mad down south talk. We make up our Spinifex Hill Artists |

own language. It’s an abstract work, so it doesn’t necessarily reference

anything. To me it depicts a heart

and all the obstacles with cultural

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differences and language differences,

| We Call It Home

family differences that two people

have to go through to become one.


I drew this, this is a Country in Millstream. When

[magic, spell] for the snake. They go like that with it

because there’s nothing. It’s so deep. You can get

he go down. When they get this tree, they wave it like

you can’t reach – you go for good!

They said the snake he got a body like a rock. They say

about that story. You know law, in our way, culture,

it, in mid-air. Before I move here I seen two fighting

supposed to be near the water, and if they do swim, the smell from the boys that been through [law],

snake can smell that. He get up, look around where the boys are. He don’t see them but he just smell

them. He get up and he have a look, look around. He

send a big wind, rain. Wind mean wirriwi, rain mean

when he want to land somewhere, some people do see [snakes] in Roebourne village. I seen a shape, a snake like a horse, you know how the horse face? Like that I seen one. But that one over there in Cossack is just like a cloud. When you get up, you think it’s a rock

there, you know. It’s not a rock, that’s his body, that part. It stays there.

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when the boys go through traditional way they not

Ngurrara [Home Country], 2015 Acrylic on Linen 61 x 61 cm

go away. They sing out ‘nyirndi’, and they wave it.

There’s a yinta [waterhole] there, and there is a warlu.

Warlu means snake. Well I been told by the old people

Jeannie George

this, where trouble is, and snake smell that. Well, he

yundu. Thaaga mean he send. That first, send a big rain

When we got to our Country, to our yinta, we gotta

he swallow it behind.

we come from there, and he smell, but if he start

and wind. He don’t swallow [the boys] by his mouth,

Long time ago they been tell me, old people, when

we was in school, when old people was alive, they said something about that same place, Millstream. When the boys was going in, going through, and they was

sing out ‘Ngurrara’ so the snake know that we there, smelling different sort, he get wild and water start

bubbling up. When it’s bubble you got to start moving whoever stranger there.

“Yala [now]”, we “gananggari ngurraayi nawaayi” [we

in the river, and they was hungry, and they killed a

come to see the Country]. That’s mean we come here

snake, kin, sort of a friend. Friend, thandu [belonging

ourself, you know, with a ‘ngurrara’. ‘Ngurrara yala yini

parrot, pretty parrot, and this parrot is belong to the to], thandu, yeah. When they killed that then the

snake smelled that thing, the boys was cooking it. The snake got up and smelled that. He got up, he ready to

swallow them, munyjugaayi [to swallow]. Munyjugaayi mean swallow them. These trees, they the nyirndi

| We Call It Home

drowned in that place. When you trying to go down

[the trees], old people, they wave it. Snake sees that,

first time, that we never been here before. We explain ganangarri’ [We now come to our home Country]. Let the spirit know that we came back to see the

countryside. Let the snake know we from there and we come back to see it.

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you go to Millstream you can’t put your foot down,


Our Dreaming is everything to us. Without that, we don’t have anything. If we didn’t have our land, we’d lose our Dreaming because

Without our Dreaming and our land, we’d be a lost soul. Annabella Flatt

Winnie Sampi Country no longer the same where my old people once walked and hunted, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 45.5 x 61 cm

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and where we come from.

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tells people who we are

| We Call It Home

we’d forget. Dreaming


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Damian Ali Yandeyarra, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 71 x 45.5 cm


| We Call It Home

33 Spinifex Hill Artists |

Damian Ali Yandeyarra, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 61 x 46 cm


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| We Call It Home


Maggie Green Learning us for working, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 91.5 x 91.5 cm

This one school. You know, this side for girls,

this side boys [the rectangular shapes to the top

manager] son, and Mary Lannigan, that’s his

daughter. Mary and Mick were the teachers for

us. Show us how to do the garden, we been learn how to grow up that garden.

When we went Derby High School they been

take us back to that same station where we come

from. We been learning at that school, but Mick Lannigan bring us back. They been learning

us for working. He didn’t want us to leave that station. They been learning us to clean up his

house, mop the floor, clean his dishes, get the egg. That’s it.

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Mick Lannigan, that’s Mr Lannigan’s [station

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finish school we go play there along that road.

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left, and top right of the painting]. When we


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37 Spinifex Hill Artists |

Minyawe Miller, Jamirti, acrylic on canvas, 91.5 x 91.5cm, 2014, (detail)


This Here: Marapikurrinya

Marapikurrinya, the town and the snake, that’s his name. William Nyapuru Gardiner

Marapikurrinya is the traditional Kariyarra name for Port Hedland, as well as the snake that lives in the waters at the entrance to Australia’s busiest port. This is a place filled with contradictions between traditional and contemporary life in the Pilbara. Hedland is at the intersection of ancient Aboriginal trade routes that run along the Pilbara coast and up through the deserts from the south. Today, Hedland is a place of modern conveniences – it houses hospitals, schools, and shops and also provides opportunities for employment and income. It has drawn people together for any combination of these reasons and it is a place that has become home to many. For almost all of the Spinifex Hill Artists Hedland is not their Country, although they have strong connections to this place through memories of school, work, and spending time with family. A number of the artists who paint at the Studios only do so for a burst of time between long stays in remote desert communities. Others have lived here for extended periods while remaining deeply culturally connected to other places throughout Western Australia. Hedland is a significant meeting place, and a place where families come together after, often lengthy, periods of time apart. Hedland has changed greatly in recent decades and is susceptible to the ebb and flow of the financial success of the minerals and trade industry. However, what lies at the heart of this place, what is significant and unchanging, is the importance of culture and connection, and the power and beauty of the natural landscapes.


William Nyapuru Gardiner De Grey River, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 46 x 60.5 cm

This is the afternoon. This is South side of the

De Grey River. Got a bit of sand. I lived up this way.

coming up here. He’s moving, the sky.

This one I’ve been done out of my mind really, but

he’s in the billabong side, billabong Country, back in De Grey. This is from Myroodah crossing side. They used to cart some kind of bitumen, or something.

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time. Got a bit of cloud there. Cloudy day just

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the grass and trees and everything in the afternoon

| We Call It Home

The sun’s setting, just getting afternoon. You see all


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40 | We Call It Home

William Nyapuru Gardiner

Marapikurrinya, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 30.5 x 40.5 cm


He’s a water snake, he’s belong to this area, and he’s from the

That snake understands Aboriginal [language, Nyamal]. He

when the cyclone come, they used to sing out to him to turn the

come, he know when the cyclone’s coming this way. He used

water snake from the Nyamal tribes.

He used to live in the, where the ships now go in [the Port],

just around there, and then he moved down over this way, half

way. And then they used to blow all those [sand] to make it a bit

wider, then he moved over further out that way because of all this

to live in there, before, a long time ago, but when they came to make this jetty bit wide for the ship to come in, iron ore ship

and all, that’s why he can’t move in back, so he had to go out and give them room. He’s further out now. He’s a pretty quiet water snake. He’s staying round there in the sea. He just watching

and hunting, he trying to find out what kind of rain is coming,

because that’s his home town here, Hedland. We call this, him, in our language, we call Marapikurrinya. Marapikurrinya, the

digging and things was going on. They made it wider a bit for the

town and the snake, that’s his name.

further out. He’s originally from this area here, where the jetty is.

Marapikurrinya is the Country here, and this area Port Hedland

He’s alright [now], but he’s probably quiet. He’s alright. He don’t

we grow up with them. We try to be in this place as one tribe

ship to come in, that’s why he moved from there, stayed that way,

worry about anything, but when the rains come he sort of turns it other way around, cyclone or whatever. He watch out for that kind of thing. They just call to that snake, water snake, and he

hear them, and he turn them winds, cyclone comes, turn another way, change that way around.

and all around it. This place had a people from other tribes, but now. They used to be Nyamal tribe. I’m a Nyangumarta. Four tribes; Nyamal, Nyangumarta, Ngarla, Kariyarra. Nyamal is

the language, and they say Marapikurrinya. They gotta talk the Nyamal language [to] that snake.

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for many years. Well that’s what they used to believe in. He was a

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cyclones away from this area before it come [and] hit this town

stopping outside over there, but he can hear when the winds

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Nyamal people. He used to live in this Country. They used to,


MarapikurRinya is the country here, and this area Port Hedland and all around it. This place had a people from other tribes, but we grow up with them. Spinifex Hill Artists |

We try to be in this place as one tribe now.

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William Nyapuru Gardiner


Valda Sesar

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Sand so many colours, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 60.5 x 60.5 cm


Everlasting: Medicine and Tucker

While there are a great many Dreaming stories about the figures that walked through the Pilbara, forming landforms, waterholes, and rivers, there are equally as many cultural stories that explain the minutiae of life and survival in Country. These simultaneously epic and detailed knowledges are both fundamental to survival in the land, and demonstrate the deep and long connections between Aboriginal people and the Country in which they live. These paintings explain the different leaves, seeds, barks, and flowers that are used for tucker and bush medicine in the Pilbara. The stories also share knowledge about places where fresh water can be found, and when and where you can hunt for animals. Selena Brown recounts the various species of plants that she used to treat her children when they were unwell, and Maggie Green’s Fire for hunting reflects fondly on her family spending time together sourcing and cooking food. Hunting goanna, blue tongue lizard, kangaroo, and other animals is a significant cultural practice which connects family members. It is tied to traditional practices of law and connection to Country. These nuanced understandings of survival in the arid Pilbara region are considered greatly valuable, and it is important to the artists that this knowledge lives on through their children and grandchildren.


May Chapman Mummy’s Land, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 92 x 152 cm

Kilykily [Well 36 on the Canning Stock Route], yeah. Bush tucker,

I’ll show you. Fruit tree, desert

Country. Clean him up and eat him up. This one spinifex [referring to

the lines at the top of the painting].

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painting]. Wamurla [bush tomato]

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loose dots in the bottom of the

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manyjirrpa [food] [referring to the


May Chapman Jurnu [soak], 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 91 x 122 cm

Get him, get him, get him, drink

him! [motions digging in the sand

coming, clean water. Plenty water, big mob. Stay there long time,

then walk around everywhere.

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We find him in the spinifex. Water

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cups hands to mimic drinking].

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to reach the soak water source,


When they been come out from school, [my sons] Stuart and Damian, old people been telling them. My mum been alive one, tell them for Stuart and Damian ‘when you going to grow up, when Spinifex Hill Artists |

you get big you got to learn to cook him fish… we go hunting,

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we go fishing, or you got to get

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him goanna. Bush tucker you got to learn. That’s why my two boys going to… hunting. My big boy, Stuart, he get them snake from tail, and he go swing like this [motions lasoo] and I say ‘He might bite you!’ He caught him live one. Maggie Green

Maggie Green Garden We Doing, 2014 Acrylic on Canvas 60.5 x 60.5 cm

We doing garden, we make garden;

onion, vegetable, radish, tomato, carrot. We make our garden. We get all the

goat, nanny goat, we get him milk from nanny goat. We take him [the milk] to [Kunmunya Station] manager, Mick

Lannigan. We get him egg from rooster. We got a big mob rooster.


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Maggie Green

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Fire for hunting, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 61 x 61 cm

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After a bush fire my mum and me we go hunting for goanna and blue tongue lizard. We light that

bush fire for hunting. We get a bush goanna, frog and blue tongue. When we collecting all him

wood you know we try to make a fire, and mum

gotta get him water. We make tea, we make lunch there. Mum always make him big hole for goanna and blue tongue for the fire.

We been climbing a hill, we been get a bush

tucker from there. Bush onion and bush fruit, you know like a fruit? All the kids, all my friends at

Myroodah Station. That hill where we go climb off, we go looking for bush tobacco and minta [edible gum] too. My mum was taking us.


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Jon Kuiper Rainbow Serpent, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 67 x 110.5 cm

It’s the rainbow serpent, right. It’s looking around for the animals, hunting, and afterward it would change its face into different animals. In the

[Northern] Territory the men paint it with all sorts

of heads – goose head, crocodile head, dragon head

– so when the serpent is moving around he won’t get recognised. In this one I put mountains on his back,

and them [the objects hanging from serpent], they’re dilly bags and the one with the ‘x’ is his magic.


Beryl Ponce Moons and Skies: Our times table, 2014 Acrylic on Canvas 61 x 61 cm

We don’t know the time to tell. We can only tell by the moon, stars. If the seven stars go

down, it coming up day break, and also when Spinifex Hill Artists |

we out in the seaside waiting for tide to come in, we wait and looked for the moon, where the moon is coming.

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This one is Julkupurta [paperbark Tree; Cadgeput tree]… We mush it up and boil it. The kids, we was putting them in the bath, have a shower, make them good. Better than they cough. We used to be doing all of that stuff… This one purrungu [blossom]. When

Nah, we got a bush tree! All the kids, make them good. I made my boys and a girls good, they don’t get sick. I made them a bush medicine. This one mungkilypa [species of plant]… This one is turn into jantal [medicine]… We was going around to get all the jantal and mungkilypa long time… If we get sick, long as we boil one of thEsE treeS, we boil it and drain it out and put it in a plastic, and we drink it gooD, Make me good. when he get a lump we pick it up, red one. Selena Brown

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red. Better than we take them to get their medicine.

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the skin we was getting it out and boil it. He’ll get

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they get sore we was boiling one of those trees, all


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Selena Brown, Marble Bar, My Country, acrylic on canvas, 92 x 152.5, 2015, (detail)


Biggest Mob: Family and Connection

Family is an integral part of the lives and artworks of the Spinifex Hill Artists. Many of the artists at the studio are connected to each other through family affiliations; they are brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles for each other. Many of their paintings feature tales of the great resilience and strength of elders, or reflect the pervasive desire of the artists to communicate the importance of culture and traditional knowledge to their children and grandchildren. Often the intergenerational transfer of knowledge and culture happens, not so much through the act of painting, but through the storytelling that accompanies it. Older artists are driven to share stories that form and maintain connections to Country for young people, to ensure that life in town does not equate to a loss of cultural and traditional knowledge of Country. Furthermore, the close connection between Aboriginal people and Country, can be understood as a family relationship. As artist Natasha Nelson states: ‘When you lose your Country, you lose your identity, language, and culture. If you don’t know where you’re from, you don’t know your family ties and kinship.’ This understanding of the power of places to be intrinsically part of your family goes some way to explaining why elders are so driven to share and maintain this connection in younger generations.


Polly Jack Telfer Area, 2015 Acrylic on Linen 61 x 71.5 cm

My dad was telling me about that place, Wakarlikarli. My dad take me round

too. His sister was there with him. He

showed me one of the oldest. They went there with a Toyota. There was a big

sandhill there, next to that water. They put a windmill there: nice water!

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they was bushmen. My dad was bushman

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there. People was drinking that when

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there. There’s waterholes everywhere


Natasha Nelson Connected: Disconnected, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 76 x 61 cm

When you lose your Country, you lose your identity, language, and culture.

If you don’t know where you’re from, Spinifex Hill Artists |

you don’t know your family ties and

kinship. Our ways of being, beliefs, law, hunting, are all part of our Aboriginal

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background. With the colonisation of

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Australia and the stolen generations we

lost our culture, we became dispossessed. This has happened in the past, and it’s

happening at present with the threatened closure of Aboriginal communities.


The eggs on the back represent

femininity and fertility. I wanted to

represent the strength and resilience of women. In Aboriginal communities, women take on the responsibility of

family – we carry a heavy burden. It’s

usually the woman that take care of the extended family. With our burden, we also have a strong family connection. In my family, my mother has six

sisters, all strong, family oriented, and supportive women.

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Fertility, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 71 x 91.5 cm

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Natasha Nelson


Lot of people think it’s nothing here, but we are rich in our own land. This land is full of beauty, history, and richness. But most importantly of all, it has our dreaming. Spinifex Hill Artists |

ANNABELLA FLATT

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borders [tri-state border of Western Australia, Northern Territory, and South Australia] and my dad was born in Northam. I stayed with dad to go to school in Perth even though I really wanted to stay with my

mum. We went to Meekatharra a long time ago, then me and my dad

woke up early to go to Wiluna to find mum, with a mission man, they call him ‘Inkgarra’. When we got to Wiluna, mum wasn’t there. She

was in Mungali, a station out bush on the Canning Stock Route. So me and dad hitchhiked all the way from Wiluna back to Meekatharra, and

stayed there at my great grandmother’s house. She cared for us. Old Mrs My grandmother and mum came early in the morning. They tracked us down. My nanna followed my footprints in the sand.

Remembering back then when I was walking with my dad, I got to see the beauty of our Country. Lot of people think it’s nothing here, but we are rich in our own land. This land is full of beauty, history, and richness. But most importantly of all, it has our Dreaming. It’s our

story from people that we loved and lost many years ago. They passed their story on to us, their Dreaming. Our Dreaming is everything to

us. Without that, we don’t have anything. If we didn’t have our land,

we’d lose our Dreaming because we’d forget. My family and I, we feel so blessed to live in this Country that we call home. I love my home. We are all united through our Dreaming and through our land.

Dreaming tells people who we are and where we come from. Without our dreaming and our land, we’d be a lost soul. We wouldn’t know who we is, where we is. You fellas call it Australia, but we call it home.

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Kyanga. She was a beautiful lady. She liked me to call her old mum.

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We Call it Home, 2015 Acrylic on Linen 74 x 55.5 cm

I started off in Perth, I was born there. My mum was born on the three

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Annabella Flatt


Nancy Ngarnjapayi Chapman Waterhole, My Country Area, 2014 Acrylic on Canvas 60 x 60 cm

I been walking around, little girl. Pujiman [bush

I been drinking, mummy have a look.

This one, I’ll call him name: water [referring to the

water. Yinta [waterhole] big one! Grandmother

living] time, long way. Ngarlu [loved one], grandpop. Spinifex Hill Artists |

bottom of the painting, second waterhole from the left and then anticlockwise around the painting]. Waldokaninya this one name, bush name. I been

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drinking water. Mulyatingki Marney [Nancy’s

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sister] and me. This one mine painting sacred, mine, me. Grandmother died here. Yuwayi [yes].

This one Taliumpujarra. This one soak water, good water. Good name. This one bushman area. I been walk around, Mulyatingki and me, my daddy, my

mummy. This one Pingagurano. Rockhole. I been drinking there, Mulyatingki and me, daddy and

mummy. No whitefella, nah. This one Pungarnu. Soak water. I been walk around every way. Good water, good name.

Mulyatingki and me. This one Malugraja. Soak mili she been there. This one Papulpa. Rockhole. This one Natiwada name. My uncle walk around there, family. This one name Wangarrpa. I been walk around, pujiman I been walk around.

My juri [nice, beautiful] mob. Marjorie Yates.

We been drink water, good water. This one here

now Japarli, this one now, have a look now. This

one Yangallpa this one name. This one Gurruka name. This one soak water. Yinta. I been born Jandindi, pujiman. Far away, long way.


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Molly Woodman Lalla Rookh Mine, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 91 x 61 cm

Going to mine, my mum used to yandy gold. Dad was going

hunting for wild dingo. He used Spinifex Hill Artists |

to get the skin, sell them. Me and mum, mum and my sister used

to yandy gold. I was young one,

maybe ten. Mum had a bottle. We

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used to put the gold inside, in that

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bottle. She’d give it to the white

man. Mum never got money. He been get clothes, but no money. All them people used to work

there [at the mine] was going to the army, going to war [Second

World War]. I was kid. Mummy

was working there, yandying gold. We had a tent, only me and mum and dad and sister there.


This my jamu [grandfather]. His real name is

Kiriwirri. That’s his Country, Canning Stock Route Country. My grandfather, he come from the desert,

31 or 32 Well. That’s where my family been come. 31 Well in Canning Stock Route. Punmu, Parnngurr,

somewhere there. That’s my grandfather’s land, and that’s where my father was born. Righto.

They went walkabout but I don’t know where they went, from place to place. Find out where the

Had a hole through the nose, with the bone, kangaroo bone like that. When I was a kid they used to get the

bone, this part [the forearm] of the kangaroo. He was a warrior, belong to this Country.

He’s standing up one leg, they like that. That’s the

way they used to stand up with their spear in case any

animal used to come. They get tired standing one side

William Nyapuru Gardiner Ngayu kuju jamu nyingkapayikurlartalku [My grandfather was a spear thrower], 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 41 x 46 cm

leg, then they rest it, change for other one. When they

see anything coming, any kind of animal coming, they hide behind some bushes or rock and wait for them to come closer to the water. Then they spear them!

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Warnman tribe. My grandfather was Manyjilyjarra.

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people, might be another tribe. They used to be

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waterhole is, something like that. They meet other


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Maggie Green, Garden We Doing, acrylic on canvas, 60.5 x 60.5cm, 2014, (detail)


Anything Colours: Painting at the Spinifex Hill Studios

Painting on canvas is a contemporary practice for Aboriginal artists; it emerged from central Australia and the communities surrounding the tristate border in the 1980s. Since that time it has been established as one of the most significant movements in Australian art history. The paintings can vary in style from figurative depictions of landscapes, animals and people, to more abstracted reflections of Country and mythologies. Many patterns and designs incorporated into these acrylic paintings are derived from traditional body painting and sand drawings from ceremony and law. Traditional practices and knowledges are transferred into bright and commanding canvases that remain a definitive part of Australia’s visual lexicon. On a daily basis there can be up to 20 artists at a time creating these paintings in the Spinifex Hill Studios. The artists paint at large shared tables or spread out on the floor. Many small tubs of paint are piled next to each work in progress, while artists apply paint with brushes, match sticks, twigs, and hands. While they paint the artists share stories about their day, or memories of the past, and every so often artists will share a canvas between them. The studio is a place of comfort and companionship, and a site of great pride for many. The act of painting itself is a liberating and meaningful practice for those in studio. As the works in this exhibition demonstrate, painting is an empowering form of expressing cultural and personal identity and narrative. Annabella Flatt explains: ‘When I paint it takes my worries away. It takes the beauty out from within me to put on canvas, so that the world can see I’m a beautiful person within.’


Doreen Chapman

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Untitled, 2014 Acrylic on Canvas 91 x 91 cm


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Doreen Chapman Untitled, 2014 Acrylic on Canvas 92 x 119 cm


[It’s important to learn about] the stories and the techniques of painting. How to use the materials, AND paint different styles, how to use the brushes, then you can create your own way of painting, but it still reflects Aboriginal culture. [I learnt when I] I’ve looked around and no one does it the way that I

Painting took me to a whole different level in my life now. I just enjoy it so much. I’m always brainstorming so there’s that many ideas that just flow through my head. I’ve got like six stories in my head already… I’m just waiting to get the time… waiting till I get really, really good, because some [stories] are really strong and detailed. It’s sort of stress relieving for me. I enjoy it. It takes me to a whole different place. -

Natasha Nelson

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do it… Every painting that I’ve done is different.

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looked at other art and got… inspired by other art.


It’s good to be out here painting, to sit with the people and make friends and be happy. Painting is like telling stories. Painting about history, life, talking about Spinifex Hill Artists |

myself and my parents and the past. What they taught

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me, bush tucker and bush

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medicines. I want to make a story for the young ones, the story behind. My grandkids can look at my paintings, my great grandkids. They might be carry it on in the future. Beryl Ponce

Doreen Chapman Untitled, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 110 x 153cm


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KELVIN ALLEN

KELVIN ALLEN

Kangaroos, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 20 x 25 cm

Dingoes, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 20 x 25 cm


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KELVIN ALLEN Turkeys, 2015 Acrylic on Canvas 20 x 25cm


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Visitors to the Spinifex Hill Studios during NAIDOC week, 2014.


From the Spinifex Hill Studios Greg Taylor

One night Annabella Flatt, a Spinifex Hill Artist, called me up to chat because she was experiencing some challenges in her life. The conversation turned toward family and Annabella started telling me about her mother, giving a tender portrait of the woman who raised and taught her the ways to ‘grow up’ her own children. I said that I would have liked to have met her Mum, and Annabella replied that I already knew her. I said no, I’m sure I never met her. Annabella, as quick as a whip, said “Yeah, you know her ‘cause you met me and we’ve got the same heart.” I could share with you an equally wonderful story about every artist I’ve met since starting life at the Spinifex Hill Artists. Two years ago when I first came into the makeshift painting studio at the Hedland Aboriginal Church, I was introduced to handful of proud artists in an uncertain period. Following the early success of Before the Town Got Big in 2010, artist numbers were quite low and the group was on the cusp of a huge change. I’d like to acknowledge the dedication and resilience of Irene Coffin, Ann Sibosado, Max George, Winnie Sampi, Valda Sesar, Maggie Green, Willarra Barker and the late Esther Quintal who kept the group strong in this period. Remembering those earlier times in the church, I realise how radically the group has changed over the past twenty four months. There’s no doubt that the new studios in South Hedland, which opened in March 2014, have been vital in this development, but it is also a result of renewed commitment from our founding members and the presence of exciting new artists in the group.


Spinifex Hill Artists in the Studios, 2014. (L-R) Annabella Flatt, Teddy Byrne, William Nyapuru Gardiner, Winnie Sampi, Eileen Tinker, and Narleen Waddaman.


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Artist Maggie Green demonstrating her painting technique to a visiting school group at Spinifex Hill Studios, 2014.


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There’s no doubt in my mind that every artist has improved, but it’s hard to attribute the rise in quality to a single element. Some of the improvements are simply down to a greater consideration of colour and tone. Many of the female artists began to paint more like they dressed, with brighter colours, bold patterns, and hot palettes. We also made a conscious effort to make more trips around Port Hedland and the Pilbara, and these journeys back to Country have been very important in the production of paintings for this exhibition. Yet perhaps the most crucial aspect is down to a bit of luck, circumstance, and the nomadic lives of some of the artists. We couldn’t have planned, for instance, that established desert painters from the East Pilbara would start spending significant time in the new studios. May Maywokka Chapman, Doreen Chapman and others from Warralong, who previously had only painted with us in short stints, began to spend substantial time with the group. Nationally-recognised painters from Martumili Artists like Nancy Ngarnjapayi Chapman, Minyawe Miller and Mulyatingki Marney also changed the complexion of the studio. The artists began to influence and learn from each other and refine their own styles. In short, the group was no longer the “mentored cluster” as it was described in the 2010 catalogue.

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Port Hedland is a town in a period of positive change and community building, but at times it remains a harsh and challenging place. The tensions arising out of cultural misunderstandings, racism, violence, petty crime, and alcohol and drug abuse can make for a difficult environment. In a short time we were able to establish the studios as a space of tranquility away from the ‘humbug’ and possible difficulties faced by artists in their everyday lives. The creation of a calm and nurturing environment has been an essential element to the changes in the group. The most positive of these have been the increase in artist numbers, healthier sales, and the improvement in the quality of art. The former two are easy to measure, but the rise in quality is maybe best judged by the new opportunities and recognition for the group. Entering a winner in the 2014 Hedland Art Awards, delivering the Mollycamp and Landscapes: This is How I See ‘em exhibitions at the Courthouse Gallery in Port Hedland, having three artists selected for the 2015 Revealed exhibition in Perth, and exhibiting in Geraldton, Mandurah and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria are significant recent markers of progress for the artists.


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The artists had renewed agency, and were teaching themselves and each other. My job, along with my colleague Ruth Leigh, was to simply foster the more organic, less conscious creativity that was developing. Witnessing the creation of these riskier and more daring canvases have made the studios an amazing place to spend time.

While this exhibition showcases the highlights from our inaugural year in the Spinifex Hill Studios, this is really about every artist who has painted with the group since it began in 2008. Ruth and I would like to sing an enormous thanks to all the artists for their trust and dedication and all the wonderful experiences and laughs we share every day.

If there’s one thing that I think is emerging in the group it’s the idea of the fearless brush. The energetic brushwork of Doreen Chapman is probably the most striking example in this exhibition, but I think every artist now approaches their canvas with a confidence that wasn’t there two years ago. We encourage artists to experiment and make mistakes, especially in the early stages of a canvas. This is something the more experienced artists show us every day. I was in awe of the coolness and confidence of artists like Ngarnjapayi and Maywokka when I first saw them paint. It was so refreshing when compared with what is often taught in Western academies, where an artist, with an eye on the theory, can potentially find their creativity seizing up with hesitations and doubt. This is not to suggest our artists aren’t discriminating or exercising judgment in their work, it’s only that these electrifying elements of play and accident are always at the core of their practice.

We Call It Home will without doubt give more insight into the astonishing diversity of experiences within the Pilbara, a region that remains in a period of unprecedented social, economic and geographical change. As with my experience with Annabella’s story, we hope that by looking at these paintings it’s possible for you to come to know a small part of someone you may never meet. Jipi!


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Artists Maggie Green and Selena Brown with their newly designed scarves at the Spinifex Hill Studios, 2014.


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The Spinifex Hill Artists at work in their new Studios in South Hedland, 2014.


Spinifex Hill Studios: Exhibiting Artists

Valda Sesar

Maggie Green

Beryl Ponce

Biddy Thomas

Minyawe Miller

Molly Woodman

Kelvin Allen

Nancy Ngarnjapayi Chapman

Annabella Flatt

Damian Ali

Doreen Chapman

Jeannie George

May Maywokka Chapman

William Nyapuru Gardiner

Natasha Nelson

Polly Jack

Selena Brown

Teddy Byrne

Winnie Sampi


Robert Champion

Joyce Kelly

Chondelle Sesar

Doreen Chapman*

Lesley Jean Kelly

Valda Sesar

May Maywokka Chapman*

Jon Kuiper

Ann Sibosado

Nancy Ngarnjapayi Chapman*

Donna Larry

Kathleen Simpson

Eileen Charles

Mulyatingki Marney*

Madonna Simpson

Sage Clinch

Kathleen McKenna

Monique Simpson

Charlie Coffin

Josie McPhee

Renee Simpson

Irene Coffin

Minyawe Miller*

Selena Comeagain

Ronald Mosquito

Nancy Taylor*

Lois Cox

Katie Nalgood

Biddy Thomas

Wendy Nanji

Bruce Thomas

Benson Dickerson

Natasha Nelson

Paul Thomas

Jon Aitcheson

Rupert Dickerson

Charlie Njana

Eileen Tinker

Jessie Alberts

Sonya Edney ¶

Taylah Nowers

Jason Tinker

Damian Ali

Toni Edney

Marissa Oliver

Elizabeth Toby^

Clara Allen

Annabella Flatt

Charmaine Orange

Narlene Waddaman

Kelvin Allen

Frank Footscray

Dorothy Papertalk

Lena Willalang

Louise Allen

Camille Franklin

Justin Papertalk

Norlene Williams

Rohanna Allen

Patricia Franklin

Albert Pianta

Lilly Willson

Royden Allen

William Nyapuru Gardiner

Sarah Polly

Molly Woodman

Judith Aspro

Noel Garnet

Beryl Ponce

Peter Woodman

Topsy Bamba

Jeannie George

Esther Quintal

Lesley Woods

Willarra Barker

Max George

Susie Rowland

Marjorie Yates*

Selena Brown

Anthony Ginger

Winnie Sampi

Margaret Yuline

Anthony Bullen

Maggie Ginger

Jigadur Yikartu Bumba

Maggie Green

Biddy Bunwarrie

Cleave Indich

^

^

Victor Burton

Polly Jack

Teddy Byrne

Hozaus Jimbidee #

Cheyne Cameron

Nancy Judiamiah

Chantara Sampson

These artists also paint with Martumili Artists These artists also paint with Karntimarta Brush Artists # This artist also paints with Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency § This artist also paints with Warlayirti Artists ¶ This artist also paints with Yamaji Art *

^

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Margaret Dalbin Lena Abba

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Hellena Stokes §

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We acknowledge all of the artists who have painted with Spinifex Hill Artists, both past and present. each and every one have been a vital part of our group.


Looking forward

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Since their first exhibition at the Port Hedland Courthouse Gallery the Spinifex Hill Artists group has evolved greatly. Having artists painting in the studio during visits from communities like Warralong and Punmu in the Western Desert helps draw a connection back into Country and the communities strewn throughout the Pilbara. This, along with the ongoing commitment of the group’s daily painters, makes for artworks that resonate with passion and meaning. We Call It Home represents a major step forward for the group since the opening of their Studios. The numbers of artists joining the group and painting on a daily basis is consistently growing and so are the opportunities that are arising. As Aboriginal Art Centre consultant Tim Acker has commented: ‘Art enables access to independent incomes, small business systems and self-employment. This in turn, builds community and individual leadership, cultivating role models and renews cultural practices. In addition, the importance of intergenerational learning is acknowledged; through this transmission of knowledge, cultural vitality is maintained, a balance to rapid, unmediated external changes.’


| We Call It Home

The artists at Spinifex Hill are constantly exposed to various skills and visions through both of these programs and as a result they are constantly evolving and expanding their practice. The Spinifex Hill Artists have a bright future ahead of them, one that is paved with their bright acrylic canvases and made possible through their immense talent and dedication to sharing their stories and culture. We can’t wait to see what comes next.

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Programs such as FORM’s Land.Mark.Art professional development model are essential to ensuring that being a full time artist can be sustainable and of financial benefit. Land.Mark. Art mentors artists who are primarily painters into the design and development of large-scale three dimensional artworks for public spaces. Through this program the Spinifex Hill Artists have had more than 10 works installed in the Pilbara in parks, new developments, and at road stops along highways so far. This is a growing area for the group as they develop their skills and designs through dedicated mentoring sessions with designers, architects, artists, and curators.

Out of the new studio space also comes the opportunity to expand and grow the residency program for visiting artists. This program allows national and international artists to take up short and long term residencies at the studios. The facilities offer them their own working space, while also being able to connect with the Spinifex Hill Artists for mutual skills sharing.

Spinifex Hill Artists |

At Spinifex Hill Studios we strive for there to be strong synergies between the creation of artworks that are deeply connected to identity and the financial viability of being an artist in this region. We are focused on the delivery of programs that offer new and exciting opportunities to our artists that allow them to succeed in a competitive financial market, make significant contributions to the communities in which they live while remaining individually expressive.


Glossary WORD DEFINITION

gaayi

perfective aspect marker

jamirti

relationship term used between grandparent and grandchild

jantal

medicine brewed from punara gum. It is drunk as a pain-killer, and to relieve heart pains

gananggari to come

Spinifex Hill Artists |

jamu

jipi

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julkupurta

| We Call It Home

juri jurnu kamiji

kangkuji Kariyarra

kuju kurlata

grandfather

finished

paperbark tree; cajuput tree (one of the paperbark tree species) 1. nice, beautiful 2. sweet taste soak

grandmother sister (elder)

language group one, one side spear

kurlartalku spear thrower Mangala Manyijilyjarra

language group language group

manyjirrpa food Marapikurrinya

Port Hedland

Martu Wangka

language group

minta

edible gum

mili

suffix denoting possession or ownership

LANGUAGE

Yindjibarndi Yindjibarndi Warnman

Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Martu Wangka Nyangumarta Nyangumarta Warnman

Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Nyangumarta, Martu Wangka Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Nyangumarta, Martu Wangka

Nyangumarta Nyangumarta

Manyijilyjarra, Martu Wangka

Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Nyangumarta, Martu Wangka Nyangumarta

Manyijilyjarra, Martu Wangka Kariyarra

Manyijilyjarra

Nyangumarta


mungkilypa 1. species of seed 2. species of plant

language group

ngarlu

ngayu Ngurra ngurrara

to see

I, me

Country, home

nyirndi

magic, spell

nyirti

payi pujiman purrungu

1. smallest 2. youngest child

Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Nyangumarta, Martu Wangka

bush or desert times, or dweller

Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Nyangumarta, Martu Wangka

was doing something

blossom; flower (generic term)

thandu

belonging to

send to

wamurla

bush tomato

Warnman

language group

wirriwi

yandy

yala

Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Martu Wangka, Yindjibarndi

Manyijilyjarra

sand

warlu

Manyijilyjarra

Yindjibarndi

Nyangumarta

Yindjibarndi

wind

yinta

waterhole in home Country

yuwayi

yes

rain

Martu Wangka, Nyangumarta

Yindjibarndi

separate (grass seed or a mineral) from the surrounding refuse by shaking  it in a special shallow dish. The term is derived from ‘yandi’ in Yindjibarndi, a 1. ‘wooden vessel’ 2. ‘hollow log’ now

Yindjibarndi

Martu Wangka

snake

Yindjibarndi language group yundu

Manyijilyjarra, Martu Wangka, Yindjibarndi

person previously referred to

taka thaa

Nyangumarta, Yindjibarndi

Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Martu Wangka, Yindjibarndi

home Country

language group

nyingka

Yindjibarndi

1. seat of emotions 2. loved one 3. inside

Nyangumarta

Yindjibarndi

Yindjibarndi Yindjibarndi, English Yindjibarndi

Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Nyangumarta Yindjibarndi

Warnman, Manyijilyjarra, Martu Wangka

| We Call It Home

Nyamal

nawu

Manyijilyjarra

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to swallow

Spinifex Hill Artists |

munyju


Acknowledgements

Spinifex Hill Artists |

94 | We Call It Home

The ongoing sustainability and success of the Spinifex Hill Artists can be attributed to the dedication and support of many people. FORM and the artists gratefully acknowledge their Principal Partner BHP Billiton, whose partnership has enabled both the delivery of the Spinifex Hill Studios, as well as the ongoing operations of the art group. BHP Billiton and FORM have together delivered strong community and artistic outcomes across Western Australia for the past ten years, and the Spinifex Hill Studios are a triumph of this partnership. The development of the facilities in South Hedland were made possible through funding from BHP Billiton and the Federal Government’s Regional Development Australia Fund, with land donated by the Department of Lands. The operations of the studio are also supported by the Australian Federal Goverment through the Ministry for the Arts.

Since their beginnings in 2008 the Spinifex Hill Artists have received significant and varied support from the whole FORM team, from project management, fundraising, and curatorial development, through to installation and business management. The dedicated FORM team, past and present, have helped make the group and the Studios what they are today. On a daily basis Greg Taylor and Ruth Leigh are an outstanding team and work with the artists, providing them with ongoing development and support. Greg and Ruth work tirelessly and with great heart to make the Studio a place where the artists feel comfortable and cared for. Finally, and most importantly, FORM would like to thank each and every one of the artists who have painted with the group over the past eight years. It is their passion, knowledge, dedication, and generosity that motivates us and that makes them such outstanding leaders in the community.


Spinifex Hill Studios are managed by

FORM Building a state of creativity 357 Murray Street Perth, Western Australia 6000 mail@form.net.au +61 8 9226 2799 Published by FORM

We Call It Home exhibition launched at the Port Hedland Courthouse Gallery on 5th June, 2015 and toured to FORM Gallery, Perth on 3rd September 2015. Supported by

Curated by Mollie Hewitt, with assistant curator Ruth Leigh. Š 2015. All rights reserved. Copyright for photographic images is held by the individual photographer. Copyright for written content and this publication is held by FORM or the individual writer. Copyright for the artwork resides with the artists. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrival system, or transmitted in any form with prior permission from the publisher. Our websites: www.form.net.au www.spinifexhillstudio.com.au www.courthousegallery.com.au ISBN: 978-0-9872624-9-3 Cover detail based on Telfer Area, Polly Jack, acrylic on canvas, 61 x 71.5 cm, 2015.

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Designed by Ryan Stephenson Printed by Scott Print

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Written by Mollie Hewitt, Susan McCulloch, Greg Taylor Edited by Mollie Hewitt

Spinifex Hill Artists |

Principal Partner


We call it home web  
We call it home web