Two hundred and thirty kilometres north-east of Warburton, on the Great Central Road, is the peaceful Aboriginal community of Warakurna. Nestling at the foot of the Rawlinson Ranges in the Gibson Desert the community is home to around 180 Ngaanyatjarra people. As with all Ngaanyatjarra, the people of Warakurna have had a long history of artistic expression. As well as the long tradition of ceremonial body painting and sand drawings, Warakurna people have had a long association with painting on contemporary media such as acrylic on canvas and crafts. Several senior artists painted for the Warburton Arts project in the 1990s. There is also a strong link between Warakurna, Kintore and Kiwirrkura with a number of artists including George Ward Tjungurrayi, the late Pirrmangka Reid Napanangka and others painting with Papunya Tula Artists. As a result, some of the Warakurna artists such as Ernest Bennett, Ivan Shepherd and Ken Shepherd have been influenced stylistically.
The works of Warakurna artists often have a particularly sensual painterly quality with rich oranges, blues, reds and pinks the favoured colours. Large multi-hued, colourful and intricate paintings created collaboratively by up to 15 artists are frequently made as are smaller works (including those of less than half a metre square) such as those here, whose succinct design is as powerful as that of larger works.
Many women continue to be involved with Tjanpi Desert Weavers and many also make artefacts for Maruku Arts. The energy and joy evident in the community“’s colourful paintings are reflected in the arts centre building itself, a substantially sized tin building whose entrance is marked by colourful painted poles set against the brilliant yellow and murals of the building“’s walls.
Warakurna Artists