“Parrtjima means shedding both light and understanding, but it’s much more. It’s the generosity and spirit of a peoples who have and always will care for country and for the many travellers who visit this timeless land.” Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts AO
A Widjabul Wiyebal woman from the Bundjalung territories, Rhoda Roberts AO is Head of First Nations Programming at Sydney Opera House, Festival Director of the Boomerang Festival, and Curator for Parrtjima – A Festival in Light. She was also Founder and Festival Director of the Dreaming Festivals (1995-2009) and Co-Founder of the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust. As an experienced, motivated and versatile arts executive, Rhoda has a diverse range of international and national experience with commercial, community and non-profit organisations. A practicing weaver, actor, independent producer and director, she continues to work as a consultant across diverse disciplines and is a sought-after speaker and performer in theatre, film, television and radio. The first Aboriginal Australian to host a prime-time current affairs program (Vox Populi on SBS), Rhoda’s Deadly Voices podcasts continue her work in broadcast, including two decades on radio show Deadly Sounds (1992-2012).
Rene Kulitja grew up in Ernabella and Amata in the north of South Australia before marrying and moving to the Northern Territory community of Docker River. When Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park was handed back to traditional owners in 1985, Rene moved to the community of Mutitjulu (near Uluru) to work in tourism. Her parents, Walter Pukutjwara and Topsy Tjulyata, were acclaimed wood carvers and founders of Maruku Arts. Rene is a well-known artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally, representing Tjanpi Desert Weavers in the 2015 Venice Biennale. Her most famous works include the Yananyi Dreaming design, which covers a Qantas Boeing 737, and the artwork surrounding the Statement from the Heart. A member of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council Executive, Rene is a member of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir and a director of Maruku Arts. She spends much of her time travelling as both an artist and advocate for her people.
Charmaine Kulitja, also known as Sharmaine Lesley, is the daughter of well-known artist Rene Kulitja and the granddaughter of renowned wood carvers Topsy Tjulyata and Walter Pukutiwara. She grew up in Mutitjulu (near Uluru) and her father’s country, Docker River. Her family have had a long history of involvement in traditional land management, tourism and the arts in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. She is working as a painter for Walkatjara Art Uluru and Maruku Arts, where she is also a tour guide and dancer.
Based at Mutitjulu within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Christine Brumby and her extended family have a strong involvement in looking after their traditional country. Christine was a Senior Tour Guide for the locally owned Maruku Arts Tours, interpreting the Tjukurpa (the foundation of Anangu life and culture) of Uluru and her cultural traditions. She has been painting as an ‘artist in residence’ for many years, both with Walkatjara Art Uluru and Maruku Arts. She now lives at Mutitjulu Aged Care.
Benita Woodman (Waterfall that come down from the hill) is an emerging artist from Ampilatwatja, a remote Indigenous community in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory. Benita has a long-standing interest in art, coming from an extended family of painters who stretch over multiple communities in the region. Her mother and grandmother, who paint at the Ampilatwatja Art Centre, taught Benita how to paint. She also has many aunties and cousins painting at the Canteen Creek and Epenarra art centres. Benita has adopted a style that is familiar in the Barkly Region, combining tight networks of dotting with figurative depictions of the land to portray the hill country of Iytwelepenty (the Davenport Ranges).
Camilla Hayes (Wild Flowers) lives at Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), an Eastern Arrernte community south east of Alice Springs (Mparntwe). She is a talented artist and has been painting at Keringke Arts Centre since 2004. Camilla is interested in new ways of using the Keringke style of pattern, colour, shape and dot work to create paintings that depict a sense of country, culture and self with a modern twist. Her work includes cultural stories, but also represents contemporary life.
Derrick Butt (Kulyakartu) was born in Derby, Western Australia, but moved to Parnngurr Aboriginal Community in the Pilbara region at a young age to stay with his grandmother’s side of the family. He began sketching in school, soon developing a strong love of art and then learning to paint. In his late teens he moved to Newman, where he started to paint again and began showcasing his work through Martumili Artists. He’s a natural storyteller, and this clearly carries through to his art, where he proudly tells the story of his heritage and his Country. Derrick is fast developing a reputation for the dramatic, bold representations of his ancestral Country, Kulyakartu, which is the title name of his artwork for Grounded.
Jane Young (Hot Sand) comes from a large and talented family of artists. As a child she would watch her grandfather and father sit and paint, while they told her stories of their country. In 1989, she was one of a group of women who established Keringke Arts Centre. She is gifted at painting landscapes, channelling her connection to her homelands through her art. Jane has a long association with central desert art and served as chairperson with Desart, the peak art body for more than 30 Central Australian Aboriginal art centres, for almost a decade. She now lives in Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), an Eastern Arrernte community south east of Alice Springs (Mparntwe), where she paints at home, surrounded by family.
Noreen Dixon (Sisters at Watarru) was born in Alice Springs, moving to Fregon (Kaltjiti) community and then to Haasts Bluff as a child. The daughter of painter and fibre artist Anne Dixon and Pastor Simon Dixon, Noreen is also the granddaughter of acclaimed artist Alice Nampitjinpa, and the great-granddaughter of founding Papunya Tula painter, Uta Uta Tjangala. Noreen speaks Pitjantjara and Luritja, as well as English. She learnt to paint while in her mother’s sacred country at Waturru in South Australia. Noreen often painted with her mother, learning her mother’s stories, before her mother passed away. She paints a different part of the story to her mother, focusing on two sisters. Noreen was taught about dreaming by her maternal grandmother, who would sing songs to tell the stories to the younger generation. As well as painting, Noreen learned Ininti (seed) jewellery-making from her grandmother, and has helped run Ininti-making workshops at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair.
Pammy Kemarre Foster (Bush Flowers) is an Alyawarr and Warumungu woman from the small community of Wutunugurra (Epenarra). Her work takes an abstract approach to the depiction of Country, capturing the rhythm of the landscape with repeated motifs and engaging an exaggerated palette to emphasise seasonal changes in the environment. Pammy’s contemporary artistic practice is built on a foundation of cultural knowledge. Her work is influenced by the many colours of the surrounding desert landscape with depictions of Country after anyerr (flood) and rwa (fire). Bush flowers bloom rhythmically across Pammy’s paintings, interspersed with the white-trunked eucalypts that are scattered throughout the hilly country. Hunting trips often form a point of reference for Pammy.