Ngaanyatjarra Lands

Ng Lands © Tim Acker

The Ngaanyatjarra Lands are in the far east of Western Australia adjoining the Northern Territory and South Australia borders. The area spans nearly 160,000 square kilometer with a population of about 1,800 Aboriginal people (Yarnangu) of the Ngaanyatjarra language group in 11 communities / outstation settlements, who have always lived on traditional land.

The Nganyatjarra have close links to the Pintupi in the north (Kintore and Kiwirrkura) and the Pitjantjatjara in the east (APY Lands).

The art movement started here with objects made of wood (purnu) and grass (tjanpi). It gained momentum through the Warburton Arts Project, a non-commercial organisation which built up a community collection instead of selling the artwork. At 700 pieces it is the largest Aboriginal art collection owned by Indigenous Australians.

Papulankutja Artists, Kayili Artists, Warakurna Artists, Tjarlirli Art und The Minyma Kutjara Arts Project are young art centres of this millenium still fledgling in the Fine Arts segment. However some very promising artists are already shaping up. Here, an entire subcategory of Ngaanyatjarra art has developed,from therapeutic painting workshops for old men and women (Tjilpi and Pampa programs) characterised by a minimalistic style, a looseness of technique and a richness of content, that has striking parallels with Western art brut.
Another dimension to the dexterity in Ngaanyatjarra art are the so-called history paintings. Here, the artists leave the abstraction and turn to figuration. In these works, artists paint (and, increasingly, add objects to their paintings, creating three-dimensional works) historical vignettes ranging from first contact stories to aspects of recent community life.

At the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award 2015, the Ng Lands were represented by four artists, a clear indication that the artistic potential of this young art region is well worth watching.

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