Thursday, September 2, 2010

Card City

i wanted to do a project with the artists and after going to Darwin Art fair we noticed that a lot of the things that were being sold were more merchandise - bags, shirts, mugs etc - I think people were a lot more willing to spend $40 on a shirt that $100 on a small artwork.
We were talking cards before the fair as they are a good thing to have as people when they come to the centre like to have something that they can buy as a souvenir if they dont have the means or inclination to purchase an artwork.

We got three artists to draw on small lino blocks - Herman who had done a wood block before was happy to carve straight into his - but Daphne and Susie were not keen on carving it so chris and I had a go for them -It was hard to get across as they hadn't done something like this before how it works and how the image will come out - once we printed a few cards it was a lot clearer to the artists and they became a lot more intrested in the lino rather than when they were doing their designs- its hard like anything if you haven't done it before to picture how it will come out - I've found that visual references are really handy in explaining things and having an example of what you are talking about helps .

There has been three deaths that have effected the community - in aboriginal culture the family structure is so complex it makes my head spin - people have a lot of obligation to their family and everything else takes a back seat.

Cementry at Ikuntji

Graves are filled with fake flowers

Sorry Business is the period of mourning after someone has passed. This can go on for weeks depending on the circumstances and the funeral they hold a Sorry camp - which is normally out of town where they mourn. Most of the artists and all of the old ladies have to go to a sorry camp in Kintore which is about another 300k or so west almost on the WA border. I find it interesting that the old ladies are willing to travel so far for their obligations.

There are a lot of family obligations that must be attended - and it's hard as a manager in the center where you need people to paint - and to have a good stock of painting for upcoming shows and people can be away for weeks - even months as Chris had at her old art centre in Nooka - where they had sorry business for three months!!

So luckily we got the artworks for the cards done before all of this business - but I would have like to have made the cards with the artists - or at least had them more involved - but now Chris is confident in making them and we also have all the tools so it can be something that can carry on when they do get back - hopefully they will be back next week so we can go on a bush trip before I go - but they will take as long as it takes!

finished cards in packs of 6 with 2 of each design.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Truckin in the Alice

We had to go into town to post some things off and for the bank so went in last friday - we normally stay at a place called - on alice on todd where they give us a good rate - there was a big truck show in town so everything was booked out - even the camping grounds - we managed to get a room in a hostel for gary and chris and a dorm for me at a backpackers. It was horrific! the mattress was a thin foam job on a slatted bed which compressed down to nothing when I hopped on. Worst sleep ever - and shared a room with a champion snorer whos snores penetrated my ear plugs.
that was on the friday night were we also met up with Ian which was great! We swapped stories and experiences and despite his hard time with the accommodation situation it seemed like he was having a good time.

After a less than satisfying sleep - gary and chris's double bed turned into a nest with them sinking to the floor with the mattress sides up around the sides - I went to collect my complementary breakfast - 2 bits of bread to be collected from reception and toasted by me. I went to collect my breakfast just before the 8:30 deadline and to check out. There was a que so it was after 8:30 before I was served and then was denied my two bits of bread - which were sitting on the counter all ready to go - as I missed the breakfast deadline. What a stink.

Headed off to get breakfast at the truck show - pancakes!
Chris and Gina at the truck show

There is a transport hall of fame outside of alice and this truck show was a reunion of all these people that are involved in the hall of fame as well as lots of dinners, awards and so on. It was bananas! people everywhere! and from all over. gary and chris's mates had come up from Victoria for it. Good for people watching - but there were also some pretty cool trucks.

Lots of men standing around talk'n trucks

This was a strange truck with the confederate flag....

but then had a floating head of lady di on the side.
That night there was no hostel - we were booked into the Quest which was pure luxury compared to toddy's backpackers!
- The next day we had to pick up some works from a gallery - but there was a truck parade!!

this is Gary snapping away at the trucks.

Only 2 more weeks here - most of the ladies are off in papunya for sorry business so not sure when they will be back - there has been three passings in the community - and as it's such a small community it means that most people are in mourning.

Chris and I are printing and packing the lino cut cards which I'll post up next time. I'm really pleased with how they have turned out!

Last Week

Two Papuna ladies - the one on the right is Topsy
More ladies

Chris and Mavis watching the movie

Chris, Mavis (front) and Susie (on chair)

Kiddie enjoying the show

Well it was a wash out for the passing down of traditions week - we drove over to Papunya to have a meeting in their art centre - men and women were there as well as a film crew. The men sang and played while the women danced - but only for a bit as I think that they felt a bit silly performing in a shed. So the organisers thought that it would be good to show 2 documentaries of the ceremony - one from the late 70's and the other from the 90's or so. The ceremony took place at Mt Winparrku - basically (from what i understood) its a penacne for the people living on the land to pay to the traditional owners - which I think are descended from Winparrku.

Mt Winparrku - about 35k from Ikuntji

Ceremony goes over a few days - you can see it here:

basically it culminates in a big dance where the traditional owners dress with conical hats and pelt the people living on the land with big poles of leaves and ash. The other cover themselves with fat to stop the ash from burning them and also make shields from green leaves - its a way to air grievances - as well as for widows to go through the measures so that they can marry again. At the end of it all they give the owners money and things like blankets as a payment.

Everyone loved the bit where they were getting pelted with the ash - all the women were laughing. We then had chops and salad - chops were a bit of a bad idea as many of the people there were lacking teeth and even me with my full set found it hard to manage.

A few determined camp dogs found their way in - but unfortunately they where shooed away and all the scraps were thrown in the bin - we feed the camp dogs our scraps normally as they tend not to get food all the time at home as they are expected to hunt for themselves.

There is a thing happening at the moment where the land council wants art centres to pay rent to the traditional owners - this normally happens with mining leases etc however the art centre is owned by the community - and some of the traditional owners paint with us - so it seems a bit crazy that they want to take money from something that is only run to benefit the community.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back in the Bluff

Ahh, home. Back to the donger and back to the RAIN! It has rained on and off since we got back on thursday - wet and soggy ground.
Gary and Chris's mates Fred and Vicky were travelling around the top end in their Ocka (big 4x4 that is a campervan) - we met up with them in alice on the way up to Darwin - they came out for a visit to the community. Went for a drive or two - tried to get out to this mountain - Mt Winparku - which has an outstation on it but it was looking like a storm so headed home. Cassie for Papanya tjupi has organised a passing down of knoweldge trip - which is a ladies weekend away where there will be singing, dancing and no men allowed! This is supposed to happen today at the outstation but the roads were slipery enough on the weekend let alone after all this rain! So waiting to hear what is happening with that.

Just went through the plan drawers full of works on paper.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ohhh Darwin. This is one of the best places for lazy days with no crowds and good times. It has all the convenience of bigger cities but all the charm of a small city. Ahh, Darwin! Maybe it's just that compared to Ikuntji it's quite cosmopolitan? Who knows.

Anyway - the trip up was LONG! we drove into Alice one night there. Went to a caravan park where gary and chris's mates were staying. Went to the $10 roast there - this place was populated by the grey nomads it was a sea of short grey hair and knee socks. But a good night they had a man with snakes and then a singer with a guitar singing bush songs that are slightly rude and cheeky which is the type of entertainment that goes on alot up here. All good fun. The oldies loved it.

Me at Bojangles pub in Alice

Gary and Chris

Had a big drive from Alice to Daly waters which is a town that was the first international airport in Oz - basically flights coming from asia and Europe had to land here to refuel before heading onto sydney etc. Daly waters consisted mainly of an airstrip and one small street which housed the pub - It had a whole lot of stuff stuck to the walls from previous customers - bras, footy t's bus passes etc. It had collections of bottles, rabbit traps and toilet seats. Paraphernalia is big in the NT. Its like someones old garden shed exploded - like a dirtier crazier version of chillis (a alligator with sunglasses? Number plates in doors!) Had a steak bigger than my face for tea.
The entertainment that night was a man that sung cheeky songs but he had a rooster on his head. That bloody rooster kept me up all night.

The chook man who has a house across the rd from the pub and who was the entertainment. (The one in the blue singlet)
Daly Waters Pub

The performing rooster.

Off early the next day stopping quickly at the thermal pools in Maderanka which were bliss!

Thermal pools

The campervan that ryan will want to hire.

Burning off is a big thing too:

A few little stops for fuel and the loo then Gary and Chris dropped me off at my hostel - I have a private room but shared loo. While most things are reasonable in Darwin - beer, food etc - accommodation is a bit pricey - its not like to gold coast with lots of high rise - (however it looks like this might be how its heading) and by the time I went to book this was all i could afford. Its a bit dodge but ok. I hired a bike to get round which has been the best! Nearly came a cropper this am when some dork opened his door on me and nearly pushed me into a bus - lucky my cat like reflexes and after years of training on the sydney circuit I managed to avoid disaster - .

My darwin ride

We set up for the Art Show on Wed - it was at the convention centre a lovely building that is about 3 yrs old right on the waterfront. The carpark was full of troopies covered in red dust as about 40 or so artcentres from all around came to show their wares. There site is here: Basically it's like any trade show - we were trying to sell works but also establish contacts meet up with other art centre workers and the governing bodies. Also for Ikuntji it was about re-establishing itself as the works that the artists are creating now are quite different in scale and price than before - smaller and more affordable.

So that was really interesting! met some gallery owners from all round as well as selling about a third of the works we took up which will make the artists happy!! (50% of the sale price goes to the artist - 50% back into the centre)

Telstra award opening.
We spent our nights looking at the great places that darwin has to offer. One thing that i noticed was the lack of crowds - They have the darwin festival on at the moment and went to see corrine grant last night in a great open air theatre which was in the main festival precinct. It was decorated with lanterns and lights - amazing - but the best thing was even though it was full - there were no lines for the loo, enough places to sit, great food - normal priced beer and tickets to most of the shows were $25. Compared to syd festival which is of course bigger - it was just relaxed easy and open to all. Nothing is crowded here which includes the wave pool i went to yesterday, IT WAS THE BEST!! - I think this lack of crowds is what makes it so relaxing here. No hussle, no bussle.

Me relaxing at the wave pool. Please note pedicured feet.

Darwin festival. Prettier at night.

So here tonight and leave again on monday for the cold red centre!

Old days at Haasts Bluff

Had another night at the community centre where they showed slides from the early mission days. All our old lady painters were there, as were the kids, the families and of course the dogs. One of the dogs weed on the screen to the cries of Wjyia! Wjyia! Which means in Luritja -no - but also means sort of stop that etc. It's the only word that I have mastered. Must try harder.

The slide show was great some of the buildings show in the slides were still standing. Some of the ladies could see themselves as kids or young ladies in them which was great. We got told stories in both english and in Luritja - they also cooked kangeroo tails on the BBQ. It was pretty special.

Bran Nu Dae

Kids down the front. Occasionally you would see a little hand shadow peep up to pick someone on the screens nose.
More kids
Some cool dudes.

The community hall - which is really a tin shed has movies and events on - there is guy who runs after school programs with the kids - discos etc. We went along to see Bran Nu Dae which was being put on by the health centre as we watched a video about heart disease. There is a lot of problems with health in communities.
I wasn't overly keen to watch Bran Nu Dae but this setting made it wonderful. Everyone was piled in. Dogs and all (me and the dogs have an understanding now and we are on good terms and some of the old ladies dogs will even let me pat them!) everyone in. It was so fun watching it with all the locals. The kids were great and loved all the slapstick. Comedies are always funnier when you are laughing with other people. Most of the older people there were either from the mission days or went to boarding school so found all the references in it hilarious with Geoffrey Rush playing a german priest . (For those who haven't seen it: In the Summer of 1965 a young man is filled with the life of the idyllic old pearling port Broome - fishing, hanging out with his mates and his girl. However his mother returns him to the religious mission for further schooling. After being punished for an act of youthful rebellion, he runs away from the mission on a journey that ultimately leads him back home. IMBD).

Ikuntji Pics

This is at the airstrip where Chris and I do our walks of an evening! Ikuntji is part of a cattle ranch - the owners of the ranch would pay royalties to the locals

Haasts Bluff is the area that we live in - Ikuntji is the camp's name. This is the Bluff. We went for a drive to Papunya - which is our neighbor town. Amazing views along the way.

Another mountain. It's really green due to all the rain!

Wildflowers! All the flowers are out now that its raining.

This is a typical house out at Ikuntji and at many camps, overcrowding is a problem. This house only has one broken car - normally there are LOTs as if a car breaks and you can't fix it it's too costly to get a mechanic out here so there are heaps of broken down cars in the community. There are also a few car graveyards just out of town.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Till august.

It was the first weekend that I have had in Ikunji for a little while as we have had to be into Alice quite a lot to post artworks off etc as the longer rolls have to go via TNT which will only pick up from Alice.
It’s been colder here than in the first couple of weeks – warmer at night but cool during the day so have been trying to get onto doing some works rather than lazing in the sun reading however the last couple of days have been COLD at night – getting down to 1 degree at night. I have an ear ache which I think is from the cold .
Chris and I have been going for a walk every day this week around the airstrip which is a 5 mins drive out of town and then about an hr or so walk around the strip itself. Nice to get out and about and there is a beautiful views from there of the mountains which are ever changing in the light.
The first day we went to the cemetery which is just out of town to have a peep. Ikuntji was an old mission so there were some small graves from the 1900’s of some children as well as fresh graves of some recent deaths. After a death in the community you cant say the name of the person that had died for a year – after that it’s ok. If someone has the same name as the dead person then they have to change their name for the year. The graves are covered in plastic flowers – which the shop sells they are so bright and colourful. When we entered the cemetery Chris mentioned that you have to say hello to everyone in the graves as that’s where their spirits live and when you leave you say goodbye. It’s a very nice way to enter and leave a cemetery.

We have an artist with us Annabel Nolan who is an artist from Melbourne. She is working with the artists in the centre on things such as mixing colours and underpainting and layering. The ladies are really enjoying it. Annabel is sharing my digs in the dongers till firday when she heads back to Alice. Gary, Chris and I start our road trip up to Darwin for the art fair up there!
I’m going to do a lino cut exercise with the artists when we get back to make some cards to sell at desert mob which is a festival in alice mid sept. Will pop some more pics up when I get a chance – as the internet here is satellite its slow also with the blogger my pics always come up in a random order!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hermannsburg Pics

Sorry not sure which order these come up in,

One is me drinking the holy water from the tap

The small house is Albert Namijerias house just outside of hermannsburg

Inside the potters studio.

One of a half finished pot.

the sun rock

You can check out the lovely work that they do there here:


Gary and Chris had to go to the dr in Alice so I opened up the centre on the Thursday and half the Friday – as they artists had sold some work the day before they were all humbugging me for their money – it was a little frustrating as they know who sold works and then other artists were coming in asking for money that hadn’t sold anything and others who I told that they would be paid on Friday keep on asking me over….and over….
Sat was a lazy day and spent most of my time reading in the sun – onto my last book so have been rationing it.
On Sunday Gary Chris and I went for a driver to Hermannsburg which is about 2hrs or so drive away – We spent the first 2hrs driving back and forth the 14k out from Ikuntji to the turnoff ferrying people who had gotten bogged. Finally on our way we stopped on the way at Albert Namajina’s house – who was a famous water colourist who did a lot of landscapes of the surrounding country. It was a tiny 2 room hut for some reason painted bright yellow outside and bright pink inside (apparently there was a whoo haha about the colour choice)
We met up with Victoria and John who look after the Hermannsburg Potters which is a well known group. Had a lovely lunch and went out to look at the town which is much bigger than Ikunji – it was the site of the first mission in the desert and still has lots of the mission buildings around. Its much more set up for tourists there with tea rooms etc.
I drank some holy water out of a tap which apparently has some healing properties so says the locals and filled up my bottle.
We then went for a walk to the river nearby which is very beautiful and has some rock formations in the boulders such as ‘jesus’s footprint’ and ‘Sun’ - there was supposed to be a moon but we couldn’t find it. Had a good ride back very pretty country as the sun was setting and went to bed exhausted.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

inside the art centre

Pictures of the art centre - where we store all the rolls of artwork after they have come off the stretchers.

The computers

Where we sort out the works and wrap.

Where we prime canvas.