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  • About the Artists

    Our vibrant and dynamic artists are from the Utopia region; a large remote area of Central Australia which, until recently, had no government funded art centre. As a result of their pioneering efforts, they have one of the strongest and richest art histories.

  • Studio Life

    July 11, 2019 2 min read

    Sometimes we call the expansive and remote Utopia region in Central Australia our studio.

    This is where we go to work with the artists living there.

    Their studios can be anything from porches to empty living rooms, under the shelter of a dedicated tree (with boxes of paints and rolls of canvas shelved in the tree branches) or within the environmental protection of a humpy.

    Dale Jennings with Lena Pwerle painting

    Often work is done by an open fire and exposed to all the elements. This means the paintings may come with a greater sense of authenticity (such as dirt, ash or even paw prints).

    But the artists are shrewd to apply the best possible studio set up for themselves.

    Motorbike Paddy Ngale painting on his porch

    The priority is to protect the painting from anything that could significantly smudge the work they have done. Acrylics are used for this reason so the paint dries quickly.

    Wind breaks are one of the first things to set up - usually made from bits of corrugated tin. Rocks and heavy objects are set on the edges of the canvas to anchor it from the wind.

    A rock weighs down canvas while Kylie Kemarre paints

    Height is an advantage to keep the wet painting away from little wandering feet or paws. Anything from empty bed frames, to cushions to planks of wood set up on flour drums are used.

    Elizabeth Mpetyane painting on a bed frame

    Blankets are a necessary part of every studio both for comfort, because every artist here without exception paints on the ground, and keep dirt off the back of the painting. Paintings are rolled away when they're not being worked on so if the backs are covered in dirt, it will be transferred to the painting.

    Angelina Ngale painting on blanket

    Rosie Pwerle painting beneath shelter of humpy

    Black paint is an essential component of every paint box for those inevitable smudges - those that can be fixed. But on many occasion unexpected mishaps will form part of the painting in some way. 

    Some refined artisans like Colleen Wallace Nungari, where every dot or design is carefully and painstakingly applied with sticks or bottles with fine nibs, will avoid smudges at all costs and their studios will reflect that. Dinny Kunoth Kemarre likes to paint in an empty shed free of wind and distractions.

    Other artists create art as though the paintbrush is translating their wisdom directly and hypnotically. Still, there is an element of looking back at the painting and working artistically with it - working in a new colour for example like Lena Pwerle will do, or finding those spots that are missing paint like Polly Ngale who likes to fill up every part of the background.

    Dale Jennings with Polly Ngale painting

    Cowboy and wife Carol Kunoth Kngwarreye in their bush studio

     

    Video

    For a glimpse of what's its like behind the scenes and in the 'studio' watch this short collection of video clips ♥

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