This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Yaritji Tingila Young Is Leading The Way For The Next Generation Of Indigenous Artists

Art

Yaritji Tingila Young’s award-winning artwork is immediately captivating. She is a leader and director of Tjala Arts, an Aboriginal owned and governed business where truly incredible work is created. Stories and culture are passed down to the next generation here, and artists are able to generate income on their own terms. It’s such an important place for the community, and Yaritji Tingila is a huge part of that.

Last year we made a mistake when referencing Yaritji Tingila in a previous article, incorrectly linking her with what we now know to be an unethical gallery. It was a careless error, but one that impacted Yaritji Tingila and her community greatly. Today, we seek to correct this, by learning more about the artist, her family, and the incredible art centre that she has helped build into a thriving community space and enterprise, on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia.

4th March, 2020

Artwork by Yaritji Tingila Young.

Artwork by Yaritji Tingila Young.

Yaritji Tingila Young with family, community and her artwork.

Artwork by Yaritji Tingila Young.

Artwork by Yaritji Tingila Young.

Sally Tabart
Wednesday 4th March 2020

‘My paintings are of my country; my father’s country, my grandmother’s country, the Tjala country. Everything that my grandmother taught me, I’m teaching to my grandchildren now.’ – Yaritji Tingila Young.

I’ve learned a lot when I’ve had the opportunity to cover Indigenous art over the last few years. Sometimes (more often than not) I feel like I can’t do it. It is uncomfortable to me that on one side of the country there are incredible artists creating deeply important artwork imbued with thousands of generations of history, culture and spirituality. And here I am thousands of kilometres away – both physically and metaphorically – attempting to communicate the impact that I can’t possibly understand. I’ve tried my best but made some mistakes along the way. One of them was in relation to the artist we’re profiling today.

Yaritji Tingila Young is a highly respected artist and community leader living and creating on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the remote North West of South Australia. An incorrect link to an unethical Indigenous art page was accidentally associated with her name in a previous story I wrote, which led to distress for her and her family. I understand why. Yaritji Tingila is a mother and a caretaker. She is an artist and a teacher. As a senior law woman in her community, Yaritji Tingila is committed to fostering law and culture, keeping stories and traditions alive.

Yaritji Tingila is a director and leader of her art centre, the Aboriginal owned and managed Tjala Arts, located in the heart of the community. It’s a place where ‘young and old paint side by side’, she says, where culture and stories are passed down to the next generation. It’s a source of great pride, industry and connection for Yaritji Tingila, her family and her community.

A Pitjantjatjara woman and widely celebrated painter, Yaritji Tingila was born c.1954 in Ernabella, South Australia. She’s has been painting at Tjala Arts in far north-west South Australia on the APY Lands, where she lives 120km south of Uluru in the township of Amata, since the early 2000s. Here, she paints the story of the Tjala – the Honey Ant – found a metre underground in the area, bulging with sacks of honey at their rear, their purposeful journey brightly illuminated in tunnels entwined with rock holes and landmarks of her country on Yaritji Tingila’s canvas. They are the emblems of the Amata region’s creation story.

‘My paintings are of my country; my father’s country, my grandmother’s country, the Tjala country. Everything that my grandmother taught me, I’m teaching to my grandchildren now.’ tells Yaritji Tingila. ‘That’s how I became a good artist because I was watching my grandmother.’

There were nine kids in Yaritji Tingila’s family growing up. Her father Mick Wikilyiri, uncle and grandfather were stockmen, as well as her mother Paniny. ‘She used to ride a horse and do stock work as a stock-lady’, Yaritji Tingila remembers. ‘She was the only woman riding those horses and mustering.’

Many members of Yaritji Tingila’s family come together at Tjala Arts. Her father Mick is a highly respected painter in his own right, and in 2016, Yaritji Tingila and her sisters – Tjungkara Ken, Freda Brady, Maringka Tunkin and Sandra Ken – won the Wynne Prize for their collaborative painting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Family and community are everything to Yaritji. As well as her own three kids, Anthony, Valerie, and Chrissy, she has helped raise many others – ‘it’s Anangu way to grow up other people’s kids when they can’t’, she says. ‘The young people are still ninti (knowledgeable) and our family will keep strong, because I’m still working on it before I go. The young people need to not only work well, but our culture has to be strong too.’

Every year since 2017 Yaritji Tingila has held sell-out solo exhibitions at Alcaston Gallery, where she is represented in Melbourne. Famed gallerist Tim Olsen of Olsen Gallery represents her in Sydney. She’s exhibited in dozens of group shows since the year 2000, has been a finalist in both the Wynne Prize and Telstra Prize three times respectively (not including the year she won the Wynne), and her art is held in major collections around Australia including at Artbank, GOMA, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the National Gallery of Victoria. She recently finished a massive mural – the largest scale work made to date in the region. And it all comes back to Tjala Arts.

‘This art centre is our business, we have watched it grow strong and are proud of what we have created. When you support us and work with galleries that support the art centres, you are supporting our business and our communities and making sure that they around for generations to come.’

Yaritji Tingila Young is represented by Alcaston Gallery in Melbourne and Olsen Gallery in Sydney. Learn more about Tjala Arts via their website and keep up with the artists via their Instagram

This Week

Stays

A Modernist-Inspired Getaway On The Mornington Peninsula

This architecturally-designed getaway nestled in the sand dunes behind St Andrews beach is your next holiday destination!
Sasha Gattermayr

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Artist, Designer And Small Businesswoman, Rachel Castle

The bubbly, effervescent design icon takes us through a day in her heavenly Marrickville studio - plus how she built her business from the g...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Street Artist Rone's First Book Is Released!

Read all about it – a new book chronicles the prolific Melbourne artist’s two decades on the Australian art scene.

News

A New Handmade Homewares Brand Launches With A Knock-Out First Collection!

Ancient artefacts and modernist interiors have inspired this experience local textile designer’s first homewares collection.
Sasha Gattermayr

Creative People

Terrazzo Queen Tantri Mustika's New Shop + Studio!

The big-dreaming Melbourne ceramicist has just opened the doors to her new retail store in Collingwood Yards, Melbourne!

Shopping

July Is Bringing The Sights Of Overseas Travel Into Your Home!

The Melbourne-based luggage company have teamed up with five Australian photographers to offer high-quality travel prints – framed and de...

Work Space

A Monumental New Headquarters For Fashion Trailblazers Incu

Take a tour of Incu's dreamy new headquarters in Sydney, incorporating retail store and head office, designed by Akin Atelier.
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Cascading, Compact Garden That Envelopes This Sydney Home

Greenery spills in from every angle in this suburban garden designed by Bell Landscapes!
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Dazzling (Yet Inviting!) Family Home

Brutalist inspired architecture meets contemporary Australian style, in this WOW-factor Melbourne home by Kennon Architects.

Homes

A Photographer’s Rustic Country Home (With Its Own Private Bar!)

The charming Macedon Ranges home of photographer Marnie Hawson, and her husband Ryan.

Family

Designer, Businesswoman and Mother Fatuma Ndenzako Weaves Dual Cultures Into Something Beautiful

We chat to one half of the sister-duo behind Collective Closets about motherhood, her thriving fashion label, and growing up African in Alto...
Ashe Davenport

Studio Visit

Ornate, Oozing Ceramics By Ebony Russell

A Sydney artist exploring the space between decorative art and feminine power.
Sasha Gattermayr

On The Market

A Charming Victorian Cottage, Turned Contemporary Family Home (With Two Rooftop Terraces!)

A sleek renovation in one of Melbourne’s most coveted inner city locales revives this heritage home - and it's on the market!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

An Architecture-Inspired Furniture Exhibition Opens This Week In Canberra

Two designers launch a collection of conceptual furniture inspired by the stylistic patterns of Japanese streetscapes!

Architecture

A Legendary Local Design Writer’s Renovated 1930s Home

Two art deco apartments in South Yarra owned by reverred Melbourne writer Stephen Crafti have been transformed into one unified home, by Rob...

View Comments

Similar Stories

Art

A New Indigenous Owned and Operated Art Gallery That Gives Back To Its Community

This new gallery, studio and workshop space for Anungu artists in Adelaide takes the indigenous owned APY Galleries to a whole new level.

Art

Painting Birdsong With Nyangulya Katie Nalgood

The bright and brilliant exhibition ‘Jalmarra-jarti, All the birds have wings’ at Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin.
Miriam McGarry

Art

Meet The Next Generation Of Artists From Maningrida, NT

Young artists Kenan Namunjdja and Rosina Gunjarrwanga are front and centre of the MCA's prestigious Primavera 2019 exhibition, on now in Syd...

This Week

Gardens

A Cascading, Compact Garden That Envelopes This Sydney Home

Greenery spills in from every angle in this suburban garden designed by Bell Landscapes!
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Legendary Local Design Writer’s Renovated 1930s Home

Two art deco apartments in South Yarra owned by reverred Melbourne writer Stephen Crafti have been transformed into one unified home, by Rob...

Work Space

A Monumental New Headquarters For Fashion Trailblazers Incu

Take a tour of Incu's dreamy new headquarters in Sydney, incorporating retail store and head office, designed by Akin Atelier.
Sasha Gattermayr

Studio Visit

Ornate, Oozing Ceramics By Ebony Russell

A Sydney artist exploring the space between decorative art and feminine power.
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Dazzling (Yet Inviting!) Family Home

Brutalist inspired architecture meets contemporary Australian style, in this WOW-factor Melbourne home by Kennon Architects.

Shopping

July Is Bringing The Sights Of Overseas Travel Into Your Home!

The Melbourne-based luggage company have teamed up with five Australian photographers to offer high-quality travel prints – framed and de...

Homes

A Photographer’s Rustic Country Home (With Its Own Private Bar!)

The charming Macedon Ranges home of photographer Marnie Hawson, and her husband Ryan.

Creative People

Terrazzo Queen Tantri Mustika's New Shop + Studio!

The big-dreaming Melbourne ceramicist has just opened the doors to her new retail store in Collingwood Yards, Melbourne!

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Artist, Designer And Small Businesswoman, Rachel Castle

The bubbly, effervescent design icon takes us through a day in her heavenly Marrickville studio - plus how she built her business from the g...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

A New Handmade Homewares Brand Launches With A Knock-Out First Collection!

Ancient artefacts and modernist interiors have inspired this experience local textile designer’s first homewares collection.
Sasha Gattermayr

News

An Architecture-Inspired Furniture Exhibition Opens This Week In Canberra

Two designers launch a collection of conceptual furniture inspired by the stylistic patterns of Japanese streetscapes!

Family

Designer, Businesswoman and Mother Fatuma Ndenzako Weaves Dual Cultures Into Something Beautiful

We chat to one half of the sister-duo behind Collective Closets about motherhood, her thriving fashion label, and growing up African in Alto...
Ashe Davenport

Stays

A Modernist-Inspired Getaway On The Mornington Peninsula

This architecturally-designed getaway nestled in the sand dunes behind St Andrews beach is your next holiday destination!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Street Artist Rone's First Book Is Released!

Read all about it – a new book chronicles the prolific Melbourne artist’s two decades on the Australian art scene.

On The Market

A Charming Victorian Cottage, Turned Contemporary Family Home (With Two Rooftop Terraces!)

A sleek renovation in one of Melbourne’s most coveted inner city locales revives this heritage home - and it's on the market!
Sasha Gattermayr

Similar Stories

Art

A New Indigenous Owned and Operated Art Gallery That Gives Back To Its Community

This gallery, studio and workshop space in Adelaide takes the APY Galleries to a whole new level.

Art

Painting Birdsong With Nyangulya Katie Nalgood

The bright and brilliant exhibition ‘Jalmarra-jarti, All the birds have wings’ at Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin.
Miriam McGarry

Art

Meet The Next Generation Of Artists From Maningrida, NT

Young artists Kenan Namunjdja and Rosina Gunjarrwanga are front and centre of the MCA's prestigious Primavera 2019 exhibition, on now in Syd...