The thriving art centre at Blackstone in WA hard by the SA/NT borders has been devastated by a fire that caused irreparable damage to its archival collection and all of its stock. They lost about 90% of the works and their store room gallery. Fortunately they were able to contain the fire to save the workshops and office, and nobody was harmed.

Blackstone/Papulankutja was established after Ngaatyatjarra people walked out of Warburton mission in the1970s and returned to their land. Papulankutja Artists was established in 2001 and incorporated in 2004 growing out of Blackstone’s Women’s Centre.  After many years of working through the women’s centre and then the community hall, Papulankutja Artists opened their own Art Studio in 2009, which is now home to such artists as Cliff Reid, Tjayanka Woods, Anmanari Brown and Anawari Mitchell.

Papulankutja Artists is known for its innovative fibre work, as well as their painters and carvers. Fibre Artists from Papulankutja won the 2005 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award with a large woven Toyota. Papulankutja Artists strive for everybody working together with a strong heart. Their themes are about country and include Seven Sisters’ story, Wati Kutjarra, IIlupa and Nintaka.

Papulankutja Artists are very community focussed. Today, women and men, young people and old people, work together. Papulankutja Artists has reached out to neighbouring communities, starting a regional art reach program in 2008. There are now 60 artists at Papulankutja and 20 artists at Jameson working for Papulankutja Artists.

There is great sadness over such an enormous loss and a delay in coming to terms with how best to proceed. But they are a strong art centre “ strong in culture and strong in our determination to continue to flourish.

They will keep the world updated about progress and plans for rebuilding, through their website. And in a splendid act of generosity, Hobart’s Art Mob Gallery will contribute 20% of the selling price of any of its extensive Blackstone stock until the end of 2014 to the rebuild.

On the brighter side of the community arts picture, an arts centre in West Arnhem Land that started out as a Duke of Edinburgh Awards project, has just celebrated its 25th anniversary since opening its doors in 1989.

The Indigenous-owned and governed Injalak Arts and Crafts Association in Gunbalanya/Oenpelli showcases works from over 300 local artists and weavers and has been an important employer and source of income for the community over the years.

The milestone is an extra special one for the organisation coinciding as it does with the construction of a new Visitor Interpretive Centre there with NT Government assistance. The Arts Centre has received $100,000 as part of the Government’s tourism infrastructure development program to refurbish its old screen-print workshop and create a range of new facilities including audio-visual screens, interpretive boards, signage and workshops. The centre is contributing $58,000 towards the project.

Located on the doorstep of Kakadu National Park and an easy day-trip from Darwin, Injalak Arts is an ideal stop-over for international and local tourists looking for an authentic art and cultural experience close to the spectacular landscapes and abundant wildlife of Kakadu. It’s hoped that topurists will, as a result, stay in the region longer. The new Visitor Centre should be up and running in time for next year’s Dry Season.

The art centre started out as a Duke of Edinburgh Awards project in 1987 where a group of young men were helped by adult educator, Wendy Kennedy to develop their art skills. They chose screen printing and built a small shed, which has grown into the art centre it is today.

The latest development there has been the development of an exhibition “ seen recently at Gabriella Roy’s gallery in Sydney “ of woven 2D animals in the style developed at neighbouring Maningrida. Indeed, it would seem that Maningrida’s star ‘looping’ weavers, Anniebell Marrngamarrnga (a Toga Art Award-winner) and Marina Murdilgna have moved to Gunbalanya to inspire a stream of witty work by the likes of Ganbaladj and Robyn Nabegeyo.

Papulankutja Artists


Artist: Cliff Reid, Tjayanka Woods, Anmanari Brown, Anawari Mitchell, Anniebell Marrngamarrnga, Marina Murdilgna, Ganbaladj Nabegeyo, Robyn Nabegeyo,

Category: Australia , Event , Exhibition , Feature , Industry , News , Other Event ,

Tags: Blackstone , injalak , Jeremy Eccles , papulankutja , tjanpi weavers ,

Gallery: Aboriginal and Pacific Art ,