Warakurna Artists is an Aboriginal artist community. They are located in the Gibson Desert within the Ngaanyatjarra lands of Western Australia. The community is about 330km from Uluru, near the Northern Territory border.
Warakurna Artists also work with the Kayili Artists based out of nearby Patjarr and, in addition, run a weekly painting programme at the Wanarn Aged Care Facility where Neville Niypula McArthur, George Ward Tjungurrayi and others are able to paint.
Every Friday morning the Warakurna Toyota arrives at Wanarn, packed high with canvas and paints. The elderly residents, many of them in palliative care, spend the day creating artworks that represent and remember their Country and their cosmology. In the 2015 publication, “Wanarn Painters of Place and Time”, anthropologist David Brooks and art historian Darren Jorgensen write:
“The Wanarn paintings are accomplished with confidence and ease, over tea or television, on the verandah or in bed. The precise interpretation of the paintings coming from the painting programme, and their relationship to tjukurrpa (the Dreaming) remains obscure because they are made by people who are experiencing the end of their lives, with sensibilities far from the anxieties of life as we know it.
They have a quality of ‘Verschmolzenheit’, an expressive simplicity that comes to artists in old age … and they push Australia’s Western Desert painting movement, well known for its dots and circles, into sparser and wobblier forms [created] by unsteady hands with an utterly intuitive grasp of the subject.
Theirs is a troubling transect of the dot painting movement, where visual ideas are lost in a blur of paint or a fading of intention that nonetheless whisper in the language of the desert.”
Image courtesy of Warakurna Artists