Vivien Johnson’s emotive book launch as reported by Nicolas Rothwell for The Australian:
IT was almost four decades ago, in this harsh desert country, that the Aboriginal painting movement was born. Now, after many tribulations and triumphs, the definitive history of that bold renaissance has been written, and welcomed into the landscape where it all began.
Lives of the Papunya Tula Artists, launched at the remote Northern Territory communities of Kintore and Papunya last weekend, traces the story of the artist-owned co-operative that laid the groundwork for today’s Aboriginal art market.
First in Papunya, about 250km west of Alice Springs, then in more remote desert communities, Pintupi men started painting in the early 1970s, and soon attracted admiration for their work.
One of the keenest observers of the fledgling movement was a young scholar named Vivien Johnson, who became a friend of many of the best-known artists.
Today, after 15 years researching and interviewing, and three years of hard writing, Johnson has finished her guide to the lives and times of Australia’s most prominent desert masters, men and women whose works change hands for scores of thousands of dollars, but whose stories have been veiled until now.
“I feel I’m at the end of a long journey in finally being able to give you this book,” Johnson told a packed audience at the Papunya Tula painting studio in Kintore.
“This book is for you, the artists. It’s about you, the ones who are here now, the ones before, and the ones who will come after you.”
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