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

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.
Sasha Gattermayr
  24 hours ago

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!
Amelia Barnes
  11 hours ago

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

News

Swoon-Worthy Luggage For The Perfect Weekend Escape

Local luggage experts July prep us for the summer of local travel with the slick new ‘Daybreak’ range.
Sponsored

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!
Sally Tabart
  3 hours ago

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...
Sasha Gattermayr
  6 hours ago
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

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

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!
Sally Tabart
  3 hours ago

News

Swoon-Worthy Luggage For The Perfect Weekend Escape

Local luggage experts July prep us for the summer of local travel with the slick new ‘Daybreak’ range.
Sponsored

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.
Sasha Gattermayr
  24 hours ago

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!
Amelia Barnes
  11 hours ago

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...
Sasha Gattermayr
  6 hours ago

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
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...

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.