Anangu Women Artists 2021 Walk Through

David Wroth from Japingka Gallery talks about some of the works from the Anangu Women Artists exhibition.


This entire exhibition in Gallery1 has been produced by women artists from the APY Lands, with twelve individual artists contributing works to this beautiful show. They've called their show Strength in Beauty and its about the concept of the strength of those ceremonial stories, women's stories, and the beauty, both in the paintings and in the cultural representations that we get from the tradition. There are some wonderful collaborative paintings included amongst the works, with family members contributing to the extended stories that are handed down through the generations.

The first artwork that we're standing in front of is one of the colaborations, the story of Minyma Marlilu Tjukurrpa. These are a series of Tjukurrpa stories coming from women's ceremonies and this one is about the ancestor Marlilu travelling across the country searching for her daughter. The three artists who have created this artwork are Carolanne Ken, Theresa Baker and Madeline Curley.

One of the wonderful things about this show is that there are both very established senior artists and the next generation of family members working together. We see a range of age groups all sharing the same ceremony and sharing the same stories. And to some degree they are also sharing in the aesthetic that's part of the women's culture on the APY Lands.

This painting from the show is a beautiful, very active painting. One thing we can say about the Anangu women artists is their work is so tremendously active. There's a great movement across the canvas, the colours, beautiful rich combinations in this case of oranges, reds, deep reds. It's mapping the country where their ancestor laid down creation tracks on their country. There's a cave at the centre of the story where the older artists have taken the younger members. They experience that Dreaming story as it passes across the country, participate in the ceremonial story, and subsequently paint about it. These are rich paintings, strong and wonderfully attractive works. This work is an exceptional painting that is featuring on the main wall of the exhibition.

Carolanne Ken, Teresa Baker & Madeline Curley Minyma Marlilu Tjukurrpa
Carolanne Ken, Teresa Baker & Madeline Curley | Minyma Marlilu Tjukurrpa | 018551
Carolanne Ken Seven Sisters Dreaming
Carolanne Ken | Seven Sisters Dreaming | 018540

This fabulous painting is of the Seven Sisters story, as created by Carolanne Ken. In this case the artist has moved away from the palette used in many of the works, those rich, warm colours. This one is quite extraordinary, it essentially has more cool colours flowing through the painting of the Seven Sisters. Of course, the constellation story is set every evening as that star cluster rises in the sky. Here we have the story as it passes across the country. Carolanne Ken has used a beautiful palette of blues and mauves right through to reds. Then there are some quite cool olive green colours in there as well. Once again, the sisters kept carrying out the extraordinary Creation journey, the Seven Sisters Dreaming or Tjukurrpa, as they cross country chased by a male pursuer, who's an inappropriate match for any of them. They're constantly using their skills to elude him and travel across the country.

Madeline Curley Seven Sisters Dreaming
Madeline Curley | Seven Sisters Dreaming | 018544

This is another beautiful painting from Madeline Curley on the Seven Sisters Dreaming story. Some of these paintings have a very unusual aesthetic - I think there's something about the Anangu women's work that is very special. This painting is represented with strong tones of pink, with a neutral coloured area that swirls right through the centre, creating this large open space. A viewer came in to look at these paintings and said, "Yes, they're very cosmic." And that's very appropriate for the Seven Sisters stories being played out in these canvases, a story that is both in the sky and on the land. This painting has that broad sweep, and as we look at the scale of the vision it is interpreting, is that tens of thousands of celestial kilometres across, or is that just one or two kilometres on land? Are we looking at the land story, or are we looking at those huge cosmic spaces? This Seven Sisters painting comprises a vast diagonal sweeping design created from the central vortex, with this neutral coloured area being surrounded by swirling forces in multi tones of pink.



Teresa Baker Minyma Marlilu Tjukurrpa
Teresa Baker | Minyma Marlilu Tjukurrpa | 018548

Teresa Baker is one of the more senior painters in the group. This painting measuring 120cm by 90cm, represents the Marlilu Dreaming story or Tjukurrpa. It is just a gorgeous interpretation of the use of red - every tone of red that you could hope to see. The ancestor story is played out, as the ancestral mother figure  travels the country in search of her daughter. This is part of the map of that journey. It is the terrain that the ancestor travels through and all the creation activities that occur as a result of her journey across country. The story and the ceremony is one that the women continue to celebrate. Also as they paint it, they celebrate it. They strengthen the story as they paint it, and they recognise the ceremonial importance of the country.

Teresa Baker, Kay Baker & Clarise Tunkin Minyma Marlilu Tjukurrpa
Teresa Baker, Kay Baker & Clarise Tunkin | Minyma Marlilu Tjukurrpa | 018550

This is a large two metre painting, again of the Marlilu women's story. This is a fabulous family statement because grandmother Kay Baker, daughter Teresa Baker and grandaughter Clarise Tunkin have all come together to work on this one story. We have three generations of Anangu women artists working in a collaboratve role based on culture and art. We start to see the different stylistic contributions come through. I can see in the lower-left area that's Teresa Baker's style. The slightly looser style is the work of Kay Baker. Clarise is the youngest artist, and she is an extremely adept painter. This is a story of family unity because you see the different generations working together, working on a single large project. This painting is two metres across. All three of the women artists from this one family express their expertise and connection to this ancestor story. All have been through this country. They know the ceremonial connections to this country, and they've created a wonderful experience of how that reads to them with three women all contributing meaningfully to the outcome. It's a wonderful result.