MEMORIES AND MAPS: Stories from the Bush

In transitioning from her intricate yet abstract paintings of her epic dreamtime story to the figurative portrayal of her childhood at Ernabella Mission in the 1950’s, Imiyari (Yilpi) Adamson shows her range and skill as an artist is not to be ignored.

Images of cockatoos on water tanks, sheep being herded and camels being laden with children, dogs, blankets and food as families prepare to go on holiday after finishing a season of hard work shearing give the viewer an insight into mission life in the central desert over half a century ago.

Imiyari has such fond memories of this life and time that she decided to share them in the way she knows best “ through painting. A selection of this work is a feature of Artitja Fine Art’s forthcoming exhibition MEMORIES AND MAPS: Stories from the Bush opening on 11th March.

Contrary to what we normally expect, mission life at Ernabella was very good for the Anangu people of the region because unlike many other missions, traditional beliefs and culture were respected. Says Director Anna Kanaris, “This is evident in the paintings. As soon as I saw them I saw joy, fun and good times with people smiling. The paintings are very uplifting”.

Abstract cultural mapping paintings will also be on display. Anangu elder and spiritual healer Rama Kaltu-Kaltu Sampson imparts his great wealth of traditional knowledge and skills as custodian of the Rainbow Serpent Dreaming in a bold red, white and black painting about the importance of ceremony.

Most of the artists in the exhibition were born in or around Ernabella or settled at the mission, which was established in the 1940’s. Travelling between their Anangu homelands and Adelaide where they now live, the artists’ connection to their country and its dreamings remain strong.

Ernabella artists are well known for their batik and ceramic work. Their long involvement with craft began with the establishment of what is now the oldest art centre in that community, which opened in the 1940’s. In the early days the artists there made hand-pulled woollen rugs. This is a skill that they have recently re-visited and Artija is pleased to include rugs in this exhibition.

It fits nicely that rug making was an active part of Ernabella mission life and now many years on it has been revived through the initiative of the Better World Arts project in Adelaide. Many desert artists are gaining a steady form of income generated from sales of their designs woven into woollen rugs. We are very excited about exhibiting this excellent range of rugs that look as great on the wall as on the floor, says Anna Kanaris.

The exhibition will also feature a range of baskets from award winning Nyoongah bush sculptor and fibre textile artist Janine McAullay Bott, whom Artitja Fine Art has represented since 2006, and a small selection of delightful oil paintings from the Hermannsburg Potters artists.

Floor talks will be held on Saturdays at 2pm at the gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition.

MEMORIES AND MAPS: Stories from the Bush is free to the public and will run between the 11th and 27th March from 11am to 5pm, exhibiting at Earlywork, 330 South Terrace, South Fremantle.

For further information, please contact Anna Kanaris on 9336 7787 or 0418 900 954 or visit