Warlayirti: The Art of Balgo

Warlayirti Artists, located at Balgo (Wirrimanu), Western Australia in the midst of the Tanami desert is one of the most successful art centres to emerge from remote area Australia. Balgo is the ceremonial hub for several Indigenous clans from the Kimberley and Western Desert and is on the Luurnpa (kingfisher) Dreaming track. The art movement began with the painting of church banners in 1981, for Father Peile’s Jubilee, and lead by the senior men. In 1982 the women joined the painting group working alongside the men. A selection of the works produced were exhibited at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 1986, at a watershed exhibition, Art from the Great Sandy Desert resulting in the art from Balgo being recognised as a distinct body of work distinguished by diversity of style and bold use of colour. The exhibition was the catalyst for the establishment of the art centre at Balgo funded by the Australia Council named Warlayirti Artists by the senior men.

This exhibition will bring together the church banners and key examples from the exhibition Art from the Great Sandy Desert loaned from public collections to clearly define the beginnings of this important art movement. The exhibition will also present more recent work by the leading artists that have emerged from Warlayirti Artists as well as the current generation of artists. It will examine the aesthetic divergences and vibrancy that distinguishes the art of Balgo. This exhibition has been developed in collaboration with the Warlayirti Artists Committee. The curator, Jacqueline Healy has been visiting Warlayirti Artists annually for over a decade and has worked closely with the Committee, arts advisors and individual artists in developing the exhibition. This story has never before been told through a major exhibition devoted to the art from Balgo and will include new research material in a catalogue.

Mick Gill Tjakamarra (1911–2002) Water dreaming [Lap Lapi] 1986 Synthetic polymer paint on canvas 76.2 x 50.8 cm Australian Museum
28 November15 February 2015
6pm – 4pm
Araluen Arts Centre, Larapinta Drive, Alice Springs