In October last year, I spent time with a handful of talented women artists from the remote community of Ampilatwatja in central Australia. I’ve been going to Ampilatwatja since 2010 when I made my first trip out there to start work on an independent documentary about Alyawarr elder Banjo Morton and the walk off he was involved in back in 1949. I discovered it was the first walk-off by Aboriginal stockmen in the Northern Territory. Banjo and a few other stockmen walked off from the Lake Nash Cattle Station where they were employed, demanding wages instead of rations.
This time, in 2016, I’m producing a series of short videos that show each of the artists working on a painting from start to finish that will incorporate animation. The animation is being produced by Karu-Karu studio.
Most of the artists paint Arreth, which translates to ‘strong bush medicine’, demonstrating a deep connection to country. For the Alyawarr people, their land has provided and sustained for generations. The paintings pay homage to the significance and use of traditional bush medicine, allowing an insight into their community. The Alyawarr people have lived in this part of Australia for hundreds of thousands of years.
As part of this project, we spent a day outside of the community where the women showed me a variety of bush medicine plants and explained their uses and which I filmed. I’m now cutting this into a 12 minute film which will be screened on Indigenous Community TV once complete.
I’m lucky to be able to work with these wonderful artists who have shared their stories and talent with my camera. I’m looking forward to finishing the video series and to showing them to the world !
To find out more about the artists from Ampilatwatja and their work, click here.
The above image shows artists Margaret Kemarre Ross (left) and Beverly Pula Luck who are two of the artists involved in the project.