Our featured artists for May are from the Warlukurlangu community in Central Australia. Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation is a community owned and run organisation representing artists from the remote desert Warlpiri communities of Yuendumu, Nyirripi and Yuelumu, which are located in the centre of Australia, 290km northwest of Alice Springs.
Warlukurlangu’s aim is to share and promote Warlpiri culture, to promote greater understanding of Aboriginal culture and to support local community projects such as the Yuendumu Community Swimming Pool, the Kurdu Kurdukurlangu Childcare Centre and a scholarship fund supporting Aboriginal students studying medical and health related degrees at the University of New South Wales.
Warlukurlangu is one of the oldest and most successful Aboriginal community-owned art centres in Australia. It has been owned and run by the Warlpiri and Anmatyerre people of the Yuendumu community since 1985. Works by Warlukurlangu artists are held in galleries and private collections around the world.
Warlukurlangu artists’ paintings act as ‘Dreaming tracks’ or maps and explain where and how features such as mountains, rocks and water sources/soaks were created. The paintings reflect and interpret the landscape (including the sky), birds, animals, plants and rocks – all full of significance and cultural meaning. Landscape features such as mountain ranges, valleys, soakages and rivers are seen as the result of ancient events and battles.Justinna Napaljarri Sims
These paintings do not reveal secret knowledge: they share a certain level of knowledge that anyone is allowed to have access to. In keeping with Aboriginal laws, the artists reveal only a small amount of knowledge to the uninitiated. Artists talk of two broad levels of interpretation, the “inside” stories which are restricted to those of the appropriate ritual standing, and the “outside” stories which are open to all. Painting is an important way of passing on knowledge from Elders to the younger generations. Before Western paints and materials were introduced in the 1970s, Aboriginal people would draw in the dust, make petroglyphs and use ochre to decorate their bodies, tools and rock formations such as caves (rock art).
To see more of these incredible artworks by Warlukurlangu artists, go to the Warlukurlangu catalogue or contact us if you are in Rome to visit the gallery. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram feeds as we feature more artists throughout May.
[Information used with kind permission of the Warlukurlangu Aboriginal Artists Corporation. Copyright of all artwork and text remains with the artists and Aboriginal traditional owners and is administered on their behalf by Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation.]