Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi - Exhibiting Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art

Tjala Arts

Amata is an Aboriginal community situated in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara/Yankunyjatjara Lands (APY). About 2500 people live in the region, which cover more than 103,000 square kilometres of arid land in in the far Northwest of South Australia. Amata is situated amongst the picturesque Musgrave Ranges, approximately 120km south of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and 500km southwest of Alice Springs. The art centre is opposite the Community Store and houses a gallery, painting area, office and storage area.

The artists are Anangu (Aboriginal people) from Amata and the surrounding homelands including Tjurma, Katjikuta, Tupul and Rocket Bore. Artists of varying age regularly work in the art centre. The artists welcome innovation and artistic development and now like to use a variety of media including acrylic paint on canvas, etchings, punugraphs (woodblock prints), designs on fabric, punu (wood carvings) and baskets to tell their stories and to express their connection with their country. All the artists paint at the art centre. Once they have completed their artwork it is then documented. This involves writing up the story behind the painting, photographing the work, cataloguing, and pricing - ready to be placed for sale. The art centre pays a commission to the artist once the painting has been sold. In return the art centre provides a workspace, all art materials, business management, travel costs as well as training and professional development.

Each painting is a both a physical and mythical representation of the artist's memories intertwined with their family's history. These memories are strongly tied to the relationships between culture, environment and Tjukurpa or Creation Time stories. Tjukurpa stories explain how the world came to be, how their Ancestors crossed the lands, creating the landscape such as the waterholes, sand dunes and mountains. Tjukurpa is past, present and future and is passed down from generation to generation.

Tjukurpa also lays down the law for human behaviour, how to relate to people, animals and plants, how to look after the land and in some cases how to prepare foods.

In this region dots were painted in conjunction with other designs on the walls and roofs of rock shelters, on flat rock surfaces and in the paintings/drawings originally worked in the sand. Now they are used to cover entire sections. Dots have a number of origins including replicating, representing bird down, typography or vegetation. They may also mask sacred designs or used to produce visually stimulating effects. The designs the artists paint can be interpreted in many ways depending on the viewer's knowledge of ritual, typography, food sources and associated Tjukurpa. They may show the practicalities of everyday life, intimate details of the land and may be far more complex in meaning than explained by the artist. This is because the designs may contain meanings that are intended for public revelation and hide those that are not. The paintings may also show the richness of food resources or the seasonality of the landscape as seen in many of our paintings depicting bush tucker themes.

The paintings don't have a horizon as expected in European art, hence the viewing or hanging orientation is not important unless indicated by the artist. It could be said that the paintings should be viewed from above as though it was an aerial view, as it was painted.

Amata's Tjukurpa is the Honey Ant Ancestor.

ACGA - Australian Commercial Galleries Association