Ikuntji Artists - Irrimatitja
21 September – 6 November 2018
The settlement at Ikuntji, formerly called Haasts Bluff, is located 230 km west of Alice Springs in the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges. It had been established first as a missionary station in 1935 and then as an Aboriginal Reserve in 1941. It housed many different language groups including Luritja, Kukatja, Pintupi, Warlpiri, Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara and Anmatyerr people, all far removed from their traditional lands. In 1960 the community was officially opened and in 1979 was handed back to the people to be self-managed.
The Haasts Bluff location has a long association with the art developments in the Western Desert. In the 1970s male artists living there painted for Papunya Tula company. In 1986 it hosted the major Women’s Painting project that saw the women artists of the Papunya art movement emerge from the shadows of their male family members. Women who had previously assisted the men with their paintings now emerged as artists in their own right. The stories that they painted and the choices of colour and technique that they undertook saw a new phase in the Desert art movement.
Ikuntji Artists emerged in 1992 at Haasts Bluff after artists workshops by Marina Strocchi saw the art centre established within the Women’s Centre initiative in the community. This structure continued until 2005 when the art centre was incorporated as Ikuntji Artists Aboriginal Corporation. Major artists established their careers here including Long Tom Tjapanangka, Mitjili Naparrula, Narputta Nangala, Marlee Naparrula, Daisy Napaltjarri Jugadai, Alice Nampitjinpa and Eunice Napanangka Jack.
The challenges for small communities like Ikuntji includes the role of transferring the artistic and cultural practices from the mostly senior women to the younger generation. The art practice in the community remains diverse and vibrant