Saturday, April 13, 2013

ArtCloth From Kaltjiti (Fregon)
Australian Aboriginal ArtCloth

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction
Ernabella was the first Aboriginal community to produce batik textiles. The Ernabella (“Anangu” women) artists perfected the complexities of dye-resist process in order to adopt it into their artistic voice.

Kaltjiti (Fregon) is approximately 45 kilometers South of the Musgrave Mountains. It is situated 350km East of Uluru and 500km South-West of Alice Springs in the remote North-West of South Australia. The community straddles the Officer Creek, which only flows occasionally during high rainfall.

Fregon's (Kaltjiti’s) Location.

Kaltjiti, formerly known as Fregon, had its beginning in 1934 when Harold Brown was granted the water permit for the Shirley Well block, 60 kilometres South-West of Ernabella. It was named Fregon, after the name of a benefactor, who donated five to ten thousand pounds (Australian currency in 1960s) to help the missionaries set up a bore on what now is situated on the lands of the Kaltjiti community.

Kaltjiti’s population is approximately 350 people, composed mostly of the Anangu people and so they are related to the peoples of Ernabella. The Anangu’s first language is Pitjantjatjara, which is usually the language spoken at home. The Kaltjiti people envisaged themselves as related to the land and other species, and so each group has special rights and obligations in relation to the land, stories, rituals and resources of their region.

Fregon.

The lead taken by Ernabella was quickly adopted by smaller Anangu communities, such as the women in Kaltjiti, who were living closer to their sources of spiritual power due to their more “closet” existence[1-2].


Kaltjiti Aboriginal ArtCloth
In 1971 a batik program was started in Ernabella as a source of income for their women [1]. In 1974 the Kaltjiti women were inspired by the batik work coming out of Ernabella and so created their own ArtCloth [1]. Women - such as Jullian Davy or Inawinytji (Tjingilya) Williamson, who learned batik in Ernabella - moved to Fregon where they became a major exponent of batik art in Fregon and so were important in the establishment of Kaltjiti Arts.

Kaltjiti ArtCloth works should not be considered just as a derivative of the artwork established by Ernabella. Rather this community of artists developed a voice of their own, reflecting the greater isolation and its unique spiritual connection to its environment. Thus, there appears a greater emphasis on flora and fauna and a greater distinction of curvilinear topological features than would be present in the works of Ernabella [2]. Moreover, the Kaltjiti artists made greater use of the cracking of paraffin wax, in order to create streaky visual striations and egg shell effects, all placed within a more fluid composition [2]. Nevertheless, Ernabella and Kaltiji women come from the same spiritual source and so culturally they have traced their iconography and their marking making (aboriginal word – walka) from their traditional sand drawings. Note: "Raiki wara" may be translated as “long cloth”.

The National Gallery of Victoria has the largest collection of Aboriginal ArtCloth in Australia [2]. Below is the batik ArtCloth of the women artists of Kaltjiti (Fregon).

Manyinta (Katie) Curley – Raiki wara (1995).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 91.6 cm (width) x 290 cm (length).
Courtesy reference[2].

Manyinta (Katie) Curley – Raiki wara (1995).
Technique: Batik on cotton.
Size: 152 cm (width) x 315 cm (length).
Courtesy reference[2].

Matjangka (Nyukana) Norris – Raiki wara (1995).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 90 cm (width) x 194 cm (length).
Courtesy reference[2].

Matjangka (Nyukana) Norris – Raiki wara (1995).
Technique: Batik on cotton.
Size: 150.5 cm (width) x 223.7 cm (length).
Courtesy reference[2].

Tjangili (Tjapukula) George – Raiki wara (1995).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 84.2 cm (width) x 270.5 cm (length).
Courtesy reference[2].

Inawinytji (Tjingilya) Williamson – Raiki wara (1995).
Technique: Batik on silk.
Size: 115 cm (width) x 290 cm (length).
Courtesy reference[2].


References:
[1] J. Ryan and R. Healy, Raiki Wara, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1998).

[2] J. Ryan et al., Across The Desert – Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia, Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2008).

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