Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum Presents Western Desert Mob Exhibition Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships.

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum and Western Desert Mob are celebrating the importance of Aboriginal connection to country and culture through art, at the upcoming exhibition Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships.

Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships is Western Desert Mob’s inaugural exhibition in Victoria and includes a vibrant collection of paintings, punu (woodcarvings) and tjanpi (weavings) from Western Desert Mob.

“Museum Victoria is pleased to present Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships. This collection showcases the creativity and cultural vitality of our most remote desert Aboriginal communities and it is something all Australians will enjoy,” Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre Director Caroline Martin said.

“The high calibre of artworks within the exhibition is a testament to the benefits and inspirational outcomes from artists working in-country within their community-owned Art Centres.,”Martin said.

Artworks on display will be for sale with all profits being returned directly artists, communities and the sustainability of the Western Desert Mob alliance.

“Authentic art sourced from Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centres provides a quality investment for the individual art buyer and on a broader level supports Aboriginal culture in Australia,” Western Desert Mob Coordinator Mr Tim Acker said.

Western Desert Mob community Art Centres of are one of the most positive examples of Aboriginal owned and governed enterprises in Australia. Art Centres enable the Aboriginal artists to access independent livelihoods, improve community wellbeing and empower Aboriginal people. The Art Centres maintain transparent operations, producing artworks of impeccable provenance and ensuring fair and ethical returns to artists.

“The Western Desert Mob alliance was established to strengthen the Yamatji Pirni (many friendships) between artists and communities in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands. With this dramatic exhibition Western Desert Mob members are celebrating our second anniversary and our success in setting new standards in empowering Aboriginal artists around Australia. Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships is above all testimony to the importance of strong and united Aboriginal communities.” Mr Acker said.

Western Desert Mob is an alliance of Aboriginal-owned Art Centres made up of Kayili Artists, Warakurna Artists, Papulankutja Artists, Maruku Arts, Tjanpi Desert Weavers and Tjarlirli Arts. These very remote Art Centres are located in the desert communties of Warakurna and Blackstone, the tiny remote settlements of Patjarr and Tjukurla, while Maruku Arts and Tjanpi Desert Weavers work across a number of desert communities.

Artist and spokesperson of Western Desert Mob Mrs Eunice Porter said her Art Centre, Warakurna Artists is a place that fosters many friendships within the Ngaanyatjarra Lands that’s what makes the Western Desert Mob alliance something the artists are proud to be part of.

“At Warakurna we paint to share our stories and our Art Centre is a happy place for this. We have Yamatji Pirni (many friendships) with each community. With Papulankutja, Patjarr, Tjukurla, Mutitjulu and all Western Desert Mob communities. We share our stories with them,” Mrs Porter said.

“When people visit us we welcome them, we want to share our stories with them and with whitefellas to keep our culture strong,” Mrs Porter said.

Beyond the collection of inspiring artworks Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships’ underlying message is to educate art enthusiasts of the positive outcomes that can be achieved.

“Western Desert Mob demonstrates the power of proactive and positive alliances between artists and Art Centres, a critical contribution to the wellbeing of their industry and what will ultimately sustain the cultural integrity of Aboriginal art,” Mr Tim Acker said.


Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships

Life and art of Western Desert Mob

When: 21 November 2008 “ 29 February 2009
Where: Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum
Who: Western Desert Mob artists

‘Ernest Bennett was born near Warbuton and now lives in Warakurna with his family. His country is Karrku not far from Warakurna.

A miru is extracted with economy as a vertical segment from a living mulga tree, its craftsman then working with the grain to reduce the portion to the thin even leaf, its minimal form following the demands each of its multiple functions.

The Miru is the essence of western desert minimalism. As the extension of a man’s arm it will amplify the power and distance that a spear can be hurled. Its leaf-shaped-core doubles as a container for mixing pituri and can carry ochre. Its burnished edge, when rubbed on a softer wood makes fire. Tipped with a freshly napped blade, the same implement is used as a perfectly balanced adze to butcher fresh-cooked kangaroo or to hone an identical weapon, created on its own perfect template.’ text by John Kean, Museum Victoria.

Text courtesy of Warakurna Artists.