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7 Parrtjima workshops with a wow factor

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We’ve been searching through our archives to find our favourite Parrtjima workshops and demonstrations.

It was a near impossible task as there’s been so many fascinating, entertaining and hands-on workshops over the years.

From tasting bush foods, fabric screen printing and exploring different styles of Indigenous painting and pottery to sand drawing, hip hop sessions, and making jewellery, there’s been plenty for everyone to enjoy.

Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts said the workshops, like the installations, talks, music and films, are all woven into that year’s theme, with the added benefit of providing an immersive experience for attendees.

“Each year festival goers can engage with Indigenous artists and performers and share in rare experiences,” she said.

“By taking part they are also gifted an insight into the ancient skills and knowledge of our Aboriginal people that have been thousands of years in the making.”

Enjoy our seven Parrtjima workshops with a wow factor.

Parrtjima Plate and Bush Tucker Demo (Parrtjima 2020 and 2021)

In a first for Parrtjima, the 2020 workshop program included two nights of mouth-watering cooking demonstrations with high-profile TV chef Mark Olive and Alice Springs bush food supplier Rayleen Brown.

The two cooked up a storm as they showed the crowd how to use native and locally collected ingredients in easy sweet and savoury family dishes. Onlookers were even lucky enough to have a taste test.

A Bundjalung Man from Wollongong on Dharawal Country in NSW, Mark has been a chef for over 30 years.  He’s been the creator and host of numerous TV series, including NITV’s ‘On Country Kitchen’, with his unique style and passion for cooking inspiring many.

One of Australia’s most successful First Nations food pioneers, Raylene Brown, is a veteran of bush food flavours from Central Australia.

A cook and co-founder and owner of catering business Kungkas Can Cook, her passion for cooking and food came from her parents who were wonderful cooks.

Raylene insists on using only wild harvest bush tucker sourced directly from the women who gather the food, as a way to support livelihoods and the continuation of connection to story and Country.

Metal Sculptures Workshop (Parrtjima 2021)

Artists from the community of Titjikala in the Simpson Desert are renowned for their miniature horse sculptures, known as Nanju.

Created from copper wire, scrap metal and other salvaged materials, these inventive tiny sculptures are cleverly turned into ‘bush toys’.

Six of these miniature creations by artists from the Tapatjatjaka Art and Craft Centre were transformed into larger-than-life light installations for Parrtjima 2019.

Festival goers were also given the chance to create their own take-home sculptures in 2021 under the watchful eye of prominent artist David Wallace.

Originally from Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), David is a third generation artist now living in Titjikala.⁠ His sculptures are based on his experiences of travelling and working the land, and station and community life in Central Australia.

“We used to hang around the stockyard watching the men work the cattle and horses.  It was exciting.  Very noisy and dusty with men yelling and cattle bellowing.  They would count the cattle, brand them and get them ready for market,” he said.

Skateboard Deck Painting (Parrtjima 2021)

How lucky were young kids at Parrtjima.

They got to customise their own skateboard deck and learn expert skateboarding tips and tricks from the pros.

Proud Arrernte man Nicky Hayes, who is the Territory’s first Aboriginal qualified skateboard instructor, and his crew from Spinifex Skateboards offered this popular cross-cultural workshop as part of Parrtjima’s public program.

A Traditional Owner, Nicky campaigned for an indoor skate park to be built in his remote community of Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa). He did it to educate local youth and build strong relationships and confidence through physical activity.

“This largely non-competitive sport is an all-inclusive platform where you can find solidity while building camaraderie and companionship,” he said.

“I wanted to provide a chance for young people to try new things and be engaged on other levels and expose them to a world and community outside of their own.”

Nicky said it was great to highlight this initiative at Parrtjima through the workshop, while also letting young participants “learn some cool stuff”.

Screen Printing Demonstrations and Workshops (Parrtjima 2021 and 2022)

Our screen printing workshops and demonstrations have been real crowd pleasers.

Fashion and textiles powerhouse Nina Fitzgerald and social enterprise House of Darwin hosted two workshops and demos in 2021, teaching guests how to create their very own printed tote bags.

Due to popular demand the founder of House of Darwin, Larrakia man Shaun Edwards, returned to Parrtjima the following year with interactive fabric screen printing workshops.

Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts said the workshops “show an almost groundswell, a renaissance, occurring among our younger generations”.

“The House of Darwin do so many projects across communities, but they’re also showing a new way of expressing culture.”

House of Darwin is 100 per cent Indigenous owned. Using creativity to tell stories, the organisation reinvests their profits back into social programs in remote Aboriginal communities.


Recycled Earrings Painting (Parrtjima 2022)

Festival goers had the chance to channel their inner artist during a workshop with local woman Zoe Fitzpatrick.

A Yanyuwa and Garrawa woman from Borroloola and Alice Springs, Zoe shared her love for painting through a fun, hands-on earring painting workshop that explored her history and techniques.

When Zoe was 15 she started painting with her mum in Borroloola, and began developing her own style when she moved to Adelaide, aged 19.

“At the time I was living in an unknown city and I felt very disconnected from my country, culture and family. Painting was my way to be able to connect with that part of me that was missing,” she said.

Now living back in Alice Springs, Zoe uses creativity as a way to unwind from the pressures of work as a registered nurse.

“Creating paintings for people brings me so much joy, and the feeling I get when I get lost in a painting is very special and something I like to share with others.”

Live Pottery Demonstration and Making Clay Animals (Parrtjima 2022 and 2023)

It was such a privilege watching the nimble fingers of Hermannsburg potters at work during their live pottery demonstration in 2022.

The potters, a collective of female Western Arrernte artists, bring the vibrant landscape and spirit of Central Australia to life with their colourful terracotta pots.

Taking inspiration from their natural environment and rich cultural history, the potters paint and sculpt stories about their culture, Country, daily life in their remote community of Hermannsburg, the mission days, bush tucker and, of course, football.

In 2023, workshop participants made clay animals and painted stories on clay after watching the ladies, but it did prove harder than it looked.

With a 30-year legacy, the Hermannsburg potters are world-renowned master ceramicists with extensive careers exhibiting through Australia and internationally. A highlight was their 2016 commission for the National Gallery of Victoria, ‘Our Land is Alive’, which set new benchmarks for their engaging and lyrical pots.

Hermannsburg, or Ntaria as it is known to Indigenous people, was established as a religious mission in the late 1800s by German Lutherans. It is based at the remote foothills of the MacDonnell Ranges, 130km west of Alice Springs, and serves as a hub for surrounding outstations.

Symbolic Storytelling with Warlukurlangu Artists (Parrtjima 2023)

Australian Indigenous artists are renowned for their use of symbolism.

Every artwork tells a unique story and often holds deeper meaning through symbols and iconography.

In 2023, festival goers got to paint alongside artists from Warlukurlangu Artists – one of the oldest, strongest and most significant Aboriginal Art Centres in Australia.

Famous for their gloriously colourful acrylic paintings, the artists navigate traditional storytelling techniques with brightly coloured symbols.

In 2023, participants at Parrtjima personalised their own acrylic artwork with symbols that related to their own journey, while learning about how Indigenous art continues to be a significant, crucial part of storytelling and knowledge transmission.

Warlukurlangu Artists has a rich and vibrant history that showcases the artistic achievements and cultural significance of the Warlpiri and Anmatyerre people from Yuendumu, Nyirripi and surrounding communities.

Since it was established in 1985, the art centre has played a pivotal role in preserving, promoting and enhancing the lives of local people through the creation of stunning artworks and fostering an understanding of Indigenous culture.