Arlpwe Artists: Off the Beaten Track
8 April - 24 May 2022
Arlpwe Art & Culture Centre is located on Kaytetye Country in the community of Ali Curung, 380 km north of Alice Springs and 30kms east of the Stuart Highway. The art centre represents artists from four main langauge groups – Kaytetye, Warlpiri, Alyawarr and Warumungu. The Art Centre opened in 2008 and the name Arlpwe was provided by the Traditional Owners. Arlpwe (pronounced Arl-boe) means “this country all over, no waterhole, no rivers, only soakage and spinifex country” as defined by Mr Mick Waake. Ali Curung has a population of up to 380 people. The art centre works to support traditional culture as well as introducing new forms of art practice.
‘I think there’s a bit of an Ali Curung renaissance taking place’ says Arts Manager Levi McLean. ‘It’s not a place that’s well known for painting, although there has been a history of exceptional carvers in the past. I don’t think the painting has really been on the radar until now. I think that is about to change. The work is beautiful, fresh, and profound, and it’s wonderful that Japingka can share that with a global audience. It’s a really exciting time.’
‘Each painting on display at Japingka maps a journey. In some works, such as those by Warrick Japangardi Miller , the movements and deeds of ancestral beings are traced through the timeless landscapes they traverse. While Marcus Kemarre Camphoo wields his natural affinity towards large, gestural, and bold abstractions to explore the nuances of his signature ‘grid’ geometry. Other works by Judy Nampijinpa Long , Sarah Nabangardi Holmes and Sonya Napaljarri Murphy pave their way with limited, oxide-rich palettes to reveal the ebb and flow of the landscape and surrounding Iytwelepenty.’
‘Ali Curing is soakage Country. There are no waterholes, no rivers. Only rare weather events bring water to the dry grass plains that envelop the region. For the artists, this fact of life is a theme of many of the works on show. These paintings are inseparable from sacred underground water that sustains life in the bush: they speak to contemporary events as the much as the ancestral.’
‘These concerns are especially pertinent today given the community’s ongoing challenge to the unsustainable water license approved by the NT government for nearby Singleton Station. Last year, alongside other artists from Arlpwe, Sarah, Judy, Sonya, and Warrick protested the decision, facing up to news reporters with both painting and picket. Water rights go further than the twenty-four-hour news cycle. The connection between spiritual life, people and water is enshrined in the various Indigenous knowledge systems that inform these paintings.
The exhibition Arlpwe Artists: Off the Beaten Track is presented in association with Arlpwe Art & Culture Centre and is on display at Japingka Gallery until 24 May 2022.