Indige­nous artists share their tales

Sophia Con­stan­tine sat down with the Martu artists at Mar­tu­milli Gallery in New­man to un­der­stand how art colours their lives

North West Telegraph - - Front Page -

The Mar­tu­milli Gallery in New­man show­cases the works of some of the Pil­bara’s most pres­ti­gious new and es­tab­lished artists.

The Martu artists are the tra­di­tional own­ers of a large area of the Great Sandy, Lit­tle Sandy and Gib­son deserts.

Their au­then­tic art­works cap­ture the di­ver­sity, strength, and in­tegrity of the cul­ture, and noth­ing is more re­ward­ing for the artists than be­ing able to share their per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences.

Ju­dith Anya Sam­son

Ju­dith Anya Sam­son, a tal­ented artist and fi­nal­ist in the re­cent Hed­land Art Awards, is one of 11 arts work­ers at the Mar­tu­milli Gallery.

Ju­dith is the grand­daugh­ter of Dadda Sam­son and Yan­jimi Peter Row­lands, both senior Martu artists.

Her love for paint­ing started at a young age, spend­ing the ma­jor­ity of her time ob­serv­ing her nanna.

Ju­dith is at an artist res­i­dency in the Na­tional Mu­seum of Aus­tralia along­side other artists, par­tic­i­pat­ing in bas­ket-weav­ing demon­stra­tions at the Song­line ex­hi­bi­tion.

She has ex­hib­ited in most Mar­tu­mili Artists ex­hi­bi­tions in re­cent years and her work has been ac­quired by the Art Gallery of Queens­land and the Na­tional

Mu­seum of Aus­tralia. Her unique, bold, and per­sonal style of art­work adds vi­brancy and orig­i­nal­ity to the gallery walls.

Be­tween her busy sched­ule of paint­ing, Ju­dith helps out in the gallery by pre­par­ing can­vases, la­belling art­works, tak­ing pho­to­graphs, in­ter­act­ing with cus­tomers, and pro­vid­ing art talks.

The hum­ble cre­ative says her fond­est mem­o­ries in­volve be­ing out on the road with young and el­derly peers.

She re­cently vis­ited Dar­win, Perth, Alice Springs and Can­berra to help out at dif­fer­ent gal­leries.

Ju­dith feels most con­tent when she is sur­rounded by cre­atives, and it is th­ese ex­pe­ri­ences that help her thrive and evolve as an artist.

“I was born in Hed­land, Port Hed­land sea­side, but I moved to Ji­ga­long with my nanna (Dadda) and my pop,” she said.

“Then we moved to desert, to Puntawarri.

“I was still a young girl, still crawl­ing in the desert. It was nice there. Some other fam­i­lies lived there with us.”

Des­mond Tay­lor

As for artist Des­mond Tay­lor, he has lost count of the amount of years he has been paint­ing.

Des­mond went to school in Nul­lagine and Perth and is a pro­fes­sional trans­la­tor and ed­u­ca­tor.

His mother and fa­ther are the main source of in­spi­ra­tion for his works, hav­ing spent count­less hours telling their sto­ries through sand-draw­ing.

Des­mond start­ing paint­ing and cre­at­ing and ex­plor­ing art at a young age and his body of work speaks for it­self.

His works are a mix­ture be­tween aerialmap­ping and Dream­time sto­ries, and in­cor­po­rate a com­mon theme of red sand dunes and in­land river sys­tems, pre­dom­i­nantly us­ing acrylic paint.

Des­mond refers to him­self as a self-taught artist, hav­ing only ever par­tic­i­pated in classes within his own fam­ily.

Paint­ing al­lows Des­mond to keep and main­tain the sto­ries which have been handed down through his dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions.

He says there is a ther­a­peu­tic feel­ing that comes with paint­ing that al­lows out­side stresses to dis­solve.

When parting with a paint­ing he has spent many long hours work­ing on, Des­mond loves be­ing able to share with the buyer the story be­hind what is on the can­vas.

He says the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the buyer and seller is an ex­tremely im­por­tant part of the process.

“I ex­plain it to them and go through the sto­ries,” he said. “It makes me happy. It gives me a good feel­ing about trans­fer­ring and showing my per­sonal story to the buyer.

“Ev­ery piece has a his­tory at­tached to it.”

Des­mond grew up in Nul­lagine and has lived all over WA and the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

It was only Fe­bru­ary that he moved to New­man, as he felt there was a need to get back to his Pil­bara, the place he refers to as “home”.

“I had to come back home to re-grain the knowl­edge into the younger gen­er­a­tion,” he said. He says it was im­por­tant to en­gage with other artists to see how the style of other artists had de­vel­oped over time. “You’ve got to be able to fig­ure out a way to be able to set up your own style,” he said. “Some­times I just paint and think and con­cen­trate on the story. It’s about feel­ing . . . it’s good for heal­ing. “I of­ten fall into a con­scious sleep and travel into a dream. I vi­su­alise my dreams and put them onto can­vas.” For Des­mond, talk­ing about art is a way of con­nect­ing with strangers and form­ing life­long friend­ships.

I of­ten fall into a con­scious sleep and travel into a dream. I vi­su­alise my dreams and put them onto can­vas. Des­mond Tay­lor

Nancy Tay­lor

Mar­tu­mili artist Nancy Tay­lor, an amaz­ing bas­ket weaver and artist, spends a lot of time of her time be­tween New­man and Cot­ton Creek.

When asked where the in­spi­ra­tion for her art­works comes from, she says it all comes from coun­try and the an­ces­tors.

“I been paint­ing for a long, long time,” she said. “My sto­ries come from coun­try. I paint sto­ries from my home place.”

While her paint­ings are beau­ti­ful and trea­sured, her love for bas­ket-weav­ing is strong, and she is fo­cus­ing on that as her main area of ex­per­tise.

Nancy is a Warn­man woman from Kar­lam­i­lyi and many of her fam­ily mem­bers are also ded­i­cated artists.

She trav­elled ex­ten­sively as a young woman, and paints the coun­try around around Kar­lam­i­lyi, par­tic­u­larly wa­ter­holes that sur­round the land where her fam­ily grew up.

Nancy has seen great suc­cess over the years, con­tribut­ing to many group ex­hi­bi­tions and has had art dis­played within the Na­tional Mu­seum of Aus­tralia.

Her works were dis­played in the re­cent Art at the Heart ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mar­tu­mili Gallery.

Mar­tu­mili artist Ju­dith Anya Sam­son with one of her works.

The works of arts work­ers at Mar­tu­milli Artists is on dis­play at the gallery.

Des­mond Tay­lor with a re­cently fin­ished piece of art.

Ju­dith Sam­son, in the space where she cre­ates her art­works.

Pictures: Sophia Con­stan­tine

Nancy Tay­lor show­cases one of her bas­kets.

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