A bit distracted this weekend, I’m going to turn the pulpit over to my friend John Carty for a video recap of Purnu, Tjanpi, Canvas, the exhibition of art from the Ngaanyatjarra Lands that is on display at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at the University of Western Australia as part of the 2012 Perth Festival. Edwina Circuitt from Warakurna Artists has described the exhibition recently on her blog, Thriving in the Desert.
Purnu, Tjanpi, Canvas: Art of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands is an exhibition of the dynamic creativity of the Western Desert’s Ngaanyatjarra artists. As the companion exhibition to the launch of Tim Acker and John Carty’s authoritative account of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands’ art centres, Art of the Lands showcases recent Yarnangu acrylic painting in context with the enduring tradition of purnu (wood carving) and tjanpi (grass weaving), providing a new lens through which to better understand the inventivenessand artistry of these desert people. Elegant and whimsical, the art of Ngaanyatjara artists reveals a glorious world of colour and craftsmanship as a living heritage. For over 30 years these custodians of Country, scattered throughout the Lands, have expressed themselves through a lively and evolving creative practice that blends traditional and contemporary approaches. The growth of community-based art centres has been central to the emergence of this new school of Western Desert art. Built on the creative and cultural expression of Ngaanyatjarra people, the six art centres surveyed (Kayili, Maruku, Papulankutja, Tjanpi, Tjarlirli, Warakurna) provide the business and professional support that enables an astonishing and collaborative enterprise to succeed in remotest Australia.The exhibition showcases the humour and playful innovation of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, the explosive eclecticism of artists in translations of weaving and carving into paint, and the glorious canvases that reflect the completeness of the desert and community life. Purnu, Tjanpi, Canvas: Art of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands is presented as part of thePerth Festival and is on at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at the University of Western Australia until 12 May 2012.
Exhibition curators Carty and Tim Acker have edited a new publication documenting the artists’ achievements entitled Ngaanyatjarra: Art of the Lands. The 304 page book is published by the University of Western Australia Press, features over 170 individual works of art, and contains an introduction by Hetti Perkins. Perkins, along with Warakurna artist Eunice Yununrupa Porter, is also featured in the video, which can be accessed by clicking on the image below or at the ABC Arts website. Early on in the video, Carty talks about an often overlooked aspect of this art: the sense of “jollity” that the artists bring to their work. This is a sentiment echoed by Perkins when she quotes Mrs. Porter’s philosophy that what lies behind the work is the sense of “making someone better by giving them happiness.”