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My Country

My Country


25 October 2023 – 4 February 2024

Tjoritja +Mpulungkinya

Tjoritja +Mpulungkinya highlights the strength of the Hermannsburg School of Art through a geographical experience of Western Arrernte Country. Beginning at Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap) in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) the paintings traverse the Country through Tjoritja (West MacDonnell Ranges) to Ntaria (Hermannsburg) and conclude at Mpulungkinya (Palm Valley). Lhere Pirnte (Finke River), one the oldest rivers in the world, crosses this Country and ends its journey at the enormous basin of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre in South Australia.

Albert Namatjira is a central figure highlighting the artist’s influence, his knowledge of Country and his capacity to embody it with watercolours. Namatjira began painting in the mid-1930s after witnessing an exhibition by Rex Battarbee and John Gardner in Hermannsburg. Namatjira became a trailblazer and a highly celebrated and admired artist.

By the mid-1940s other Western Arrernte men had commenced painting and the Hermannsburg School of watercolour painting had taken shape and gained momentum. Many of the first generation artists are included here as well as subsequent generations. The School has continued its success with artists today supported through Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) art centre in Mparntwe. Inspiration is continually drawn from Country which the artists articulate in new ways and innovative ways to captivated audiences.

The paintings hold many important places for their Western Arrernte custodians and together they provide rich stories of ongoing connection with Country. Ultimately the paintings celebrate the legacy of Albert Namatjira his influence to the contemporary Aboriginal art movement and the longevity and importance of the Hermannsburg School.

Groundswell +Momentum

In the middle of 1971 a sophisticated visual language was revealed at Papunya in the form of a nine metre mural on the Papunya School that articulated the travels of the Honey Ant. Painted by a group of senior men this moment motivated the contemporary articulation of Tjukurrpa onto permanent materials. A surge of painting resulted and the foundations of the Western Desert art movement were laid. Not since Albert Namatjira and the Hermannsburg School, had there been such an important art movement in Central Australia.

Some artistic activities had already been occurring however now a number of senior men demonstrated a sophisticated visual language while revealing deep knowledge of Country and Tjukurrpa (Law) and heralded the beginnings of contemporary Aboriginal art. The period between 1971 and 1972 saw intense creativity and approximately 1000 paintings were produced. In late 1972 the Western Desert artists formed Papunya Tula Artists to support them in their endeavours and has continued to be fundamental in elevating the careers of successive generations of artists both nationally and internationally.

The success of the Western Desert art movement and the Hermannsburg School of art has been fundamental to the momentum of contemporary Aboriginal art across the region. This has led to the establishment of many Aboriginal owned art centres across the region which are now the primary hubs for hundreds of artists in their creative endeavours. These artworks span vast regions including the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia, the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia. Some artists are innovators in the use of different materials in particular clay which is now used more broadly and formed in a myriad of extraordinary ways or tjanpi (native grass) shaped into ground-breaking sculptures.

The artworks are ground-breaking and exciting and build on the legacy of past generations of artists. They invite viewers to engage with the rich culture, aesthetic ability and artistic innovation of these artists across generations. The artists confidently assert knowledge and strong connection to Country as they continue the momentum of contemporary Aboriginal art in Central Australia.


Albert Namatjira Mount Hermannsburg c.1949-52

On loan from Ngurratjuta Corporation

Rex Battarbee Mount Hermannsburg 1936

Araluen Art Collection

Abel Pareroultja My grandfather Edwin Kngwarria Pareroultja 2023

Araluen Art Collection

Kathy Inkamala Mount Gillen, West MacDonnell Ranges 2018

Araluen Art Collection

John Tjakamarra Wallaby Tjukurrpa 1972
Araluen Art Collection.

Presented to the people of Alice Springs in 1991 through the
Alice Springs Town Council by the Honourable Jock Nelson
Mayor of Alice Springs 1971 - 1973

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri Warlugulong 1991

On loan from the Strehlow Research Centre


Tjampawa Stevens Piltati 2019

Araluen Art Collection