Andrea Adamson is a young Pitjantjatjara artist currently based in Alice Springs. She is preparing works for her first solo exhibition at Japingka Gallery. In this interview with Amy Nicholas, Andrea discusses early influences, the story that inspires her work as well as the importance of her country. Andrea also mentioned something she likes to hide in every painting.
Where are you from Andrea?
I’m from Amata. That’s in the APY Lands (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) in the far north-west of South Australia.
Where did you start painting and who taught you the most?
I started painting at eighteen or nineteen, around 2000. I always watched my grandfather (Andrea’s grandfather was senior Amata painter Tiger Palpatja). I was thinking that I might try one day. When I first started an art centre manager told me “you’re not an artist.” I was thinking, well I might try again. I was fooling around. When I came here I worked a little bit more. I did more and more. I work so much sometimes my arms get sore and tired.
What stories do you like to paint?
I can paint the Seven Sisters story because that’s from my mother’s side. There were originally twelve sisters, not just seven. They went right around Australia, right around the world, everywhere. The twelve sisters travelled to Mount Connor, and they made lakes and a lot of salt, and they created all the rock holes. When they see that man, Wati Nyiru, who was chasing them, they disappeared. They ran, they spread out, they became the stars.
How do you choose the colours for each of your paintings?
When I first started I’d see colours when I slept at night. Sometimes I’d see the flowers or the sky. When I travel to the bush I look at the colours there. Then I mix my colours. Sometimes I see the sunset colours, the deep blues. I get that colour straight away.
How long does one of your paintings usually take?
Sometimes a painting might take me a day or two. Sometimes longer if they’re bigger. If I feel good I can do a smaller picture in a day.
What are you thinking about when you are making your paintings?
Salt lakes, grass from my father's country, flowers from my father’s homeland.
You’ve had other jobs as a cultural guide at Uluru. Do you go back there?
Yes I went last year, December. All the women went for women's business.
You have other jobs too?
I work at the courthouse when they need an interpreter. I also used to work at the store in Amata sometimes.
Have you got family with you in Alice Springs?
My mother is here for treatment. My son paints himself and does traditional dancing.
What would you like to have for the future?
I want all my kids, my grandchildren to keep their Tjukurrpa (Creation) story strong.
Note: Andrea includes her lucky number three in each of her works. It's there to be found if you search it out.