Today we’re thrilled and honoured to be launching our second TDF Collect exhibition of the year – ‘Martumili Artists’!
This exhibition brings together a collection of 14 powerful, personal artworks from 12 different artists who work from the East Pilbara Arts centre in Newman, WA. The Martu artists and their families are the traditional custodians of vast stretches of the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts as well as the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) area.
Most Martu people maintain an independent desert lifestyle, and live in their own communities, but regularly visit regional centres such as Newman and Port Hedland, where they often come together at the art centre over cups of tea!
Many of the works in the show, such as the brightly coloured ‘Untitled’ by May Wokka Chapman, depict the artist’s ngurra, or home Country. Immortalising the physical characteristics of that place and subsequent Jukurrpa (Dreaming) stories in art has become an important means of cultural maintenance.
Similarly, Marianne Burton’s ‘Punmu waterholes’ shares stories of her home and her childhood. ‘We grew up in Punmu around all these water holes,’ Marianne says. ‘I still live here with my grandkids, [we share the] same stories for all these places.’
Doreen Chapman builds a layered representation of her Country through her trademark wild colour palettes, with a mix of realist and traditional elements coming together in her painting, ‘Untitled‘, while Pauline Williams‘ ‘Kunawarritji Rockholes’ is a familial recreation of a painting her mother had made, filled with memories and earthy pink tones.
For these artists, art-making is also the practice of ‘place-making’ – where they can embed the stories of their past in their intricate paintings with a sense of permanence.
This sentiment is perfectly put by fellow Martumili artist, Ngalangka Nola Taylor and Joshua Booth: ‘When Martu paint, it’s like a map. Martu draw story on the ground and on the canvas, and all the circle and line there are the hunting areas and different waters and tracks where people used to walk, and [some you] can’t cross, like boundaries.’
‘So nowadays you see a colourful painting and wonder what it is, but that’s how Martu tell story long ago. It’s not just a lovely painting, it’s a story and a songline and a history and everything that goes with it.’
Sales for TDF Collect: ‘Martumili Artists’ are now open! You can see the full catalogue here. For all sales and enquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday June 2nd – Saturday June 4th, 10am – 4pm
Tuesday June 7th – Thursday June 9th, 10am – 4pm
14 Little Oxford Street