our art centre

Warlayirti Artists specialises in fine art paintings, as well as prints, silk scarf dyeing, multimedia and artefacts.

Warlayirti Artists is one of Australia’s leading Indigenous art centres, whose artists have a reputation for vibrant colour, bold brush strokes and distinctly individual art works. Warlayirti Artists is located in the community of Wirrimanu (Balgo) in the south east Kimberley, on the edge of the Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts in the Kutjungka region of northern Western Australia. Wirrimanu is the ceremonial hub for several Indigenous clans and is a site for the Luurnpa Tjukurrpa (Kingfisher Dreaming).

Established in 1987, Warlayirti Artists represents more than 200 artists across the three communities in the Kutjungka region – Kururrungka (Billiluna), Mulan and Wirramanu (Balgo). There are eight different language groups – Kukatja, Ngardi, Djaru, Warlpiri, Walmajarri, Wangkajunga, Pintupi and Manyjiljarra– each with their own history and stories to tell. For this multicultural and diverse artistic group, art is part of everyday life and cultural continuity.

Warlayirti Artists has some of the best purpose-built facilities in remote Australia. The Warlayirti Art Centre is a dynamic place, functioning as a studio space for artists, as well as a large purpose-built gallery for the display and sale of artworks. The Art Centre is also home to a cultural Keeping Place and archive of national significance.

The Art Centre accommodates a community of artists diverse in age, culture and life experience – some brought up in the traditional bush manner, others on the Mission and in the modern-day community. The artists use traditional and new media to share and tell their stories. Warlayirti Artists is known for its bright acrylic works on canvas and linen, however artists have also been developing their skills in the areas of printmaking, photography and other medium.

Artists exhibit widely nationally and internationally, and are represented in major public and private collections.

Warlayirti Artists is an Aboriginal owned and governed, not-for-profit organisation with deductible gift recipient status.

board of directors

Matthew West

Chair

Jimmy Tchooga

Vice Chair

Imelda (Yukenbarri) Gugaman

Director

Jane Gimme

Director

Veronica Lulu

Director

Vincent Nanala

Director

Anne Ovi

Director

Marie Mudgedell

Director

Frances Nowee

Director

our story

Nyinmi
Tossie Baadjo, 24-May-21

Kurralkaya nganayingka, wuungkungkaya payinting-manama. Yujim-manamaya pamarrpa, kalajpa yalawu-wan, rayat-wan and pilak-wan, tjaakalpa. Yujim-manamaya kurralka, tjitja rnawu, wuungkungka. Wiya marru nyinangu. Wilytja palyanmaya. Hmm, tjitja rnawu nganayi, wangkanguya house kala watjarnu ‘tuwu-mankuwa!’ Tuwu-mankuwa, all the uncle, ngunpaya wul-lat nyinama tjiingka tatinguny. Wulkuman-wulkuman yangka luuj, wiyarringu, yawiyi.

Convent-karnaya palyanma. Laltuya palyanmaya tjiitjanu, Training Center-ngkaya palyanmaya. Training Centre-tjanu yanuya Convent-kutulpi. Convent-tjanu––. Wal, tjiingkingu, wiya, palyalkula kutja Art Centre waltjalalku. Ngurra tjurnulpiya. Art Centre-rnaya ngaratjurnu.

Tuwu-manamalatja ngayukurnu parnkurnatju nyangama, Imeldakurnu ngama. Watjarnutju, wanku ngatjan nyuntulu palyanmal! Watjalatjana kartiyangka kanya yarraya tiiwatjanu kartiya. Watjalatju orangewanpa tjitja sandpa, nganayingka little bit redpa tjitja fire. Watjanamalatju yeah, tjitjarnawu.

Makimalatju yalu ngayukurnu kidsparnatjana learnim-manu. Doimmanalpa ngan tjapitji ngurra-ngkunyurran. Nyilangkunyurran palyalkuwa. Tjuwim-manamarnatjana ngayu. Payinting-palatjana, nyuntunlpa nyurrany tuwum, tuwu-manal payinting katjalatju nganayi rnawu, pitjirnalpi nyinamal, wiyiltjaya-ngka. Yuwayi, nyamu.

A long time ago, they used to do paintings around the windbreaks and humpies. They would use ochres of all different colours: yellow ones, red ones and black–charcoal ones. This is what they used to use a long time ago, all just alongside the windbreaks. There were no houses back then. They would (just) make windbreaks (for themselves) Hmm, then they said “let’s put up houses!”. And so they put up the houses, the uncles, all of them there (helped), and my father’s mob. And all the old women too whom we have lost, they have since passed away, poor things.

From then, they stated painting around the Convent. Lots of them were making art from then on; they had been painting at the Training Centre (first), and from the Training Centre they went to the Convent. From the Convent–– well then they thought, no, let’s make an Art Centre for ourselves. And so they established a place and built the Art Centre.

I was watching my cousin and Imelda’s mother as they painted. She said to me, ‘you really should start making it (art) now too. And we would speak with kartiya too who would visit. Kartiya who come from a long way away. We would explain (to them) how orange colours relate to the sand; and here; how little bits of red represent fire. We would talk about it like so.

I also encourage my kids to learn to paint too. I (tell) them, ‘paint your tjapitji’s (mother’s father) country! You should paint your country, Nyila!’ I would show them painting. You now, you lot do the painting now, while we watch from (our) wheelchairs. Yeah, that’s all.

Nyinmi
Anne Ovi, 24-May-21

Ngatjarna wangkinpa ngayu nganayiku Mulanku. Warlayirtilanyatju ngayinpa helpmanpa Mulan Art Centre. Wakarninpalatju paintingpa and do-manpa latju weavingpa jewellery. Wangkinpalatju larltu.

Kuwalatju parnkatj-manalankutju payinting-pa, nganayingka, Mulan Art Centre. Help-manalanyatju Warlayirti Art Centre-rlu. Ngatjalatju ngainypala Walmatjarrikurlu, Kukatjakurlu, Pintupikurlu, Jarukurlu, Ngardikurlu. Yuwayi, wakarninpalatju Warlayirti Art Centre-ngka. Kururrungku nganayingka, nyinin. Yamparralampatju nganayi Warlayirti Art Centre, ngampurr-manpala ngatja, another community too, yangka. Yuwayi, nyamu.

I just want to speak briefly for the community of Mulan. Warlayirti (Art Centre) has been helping us a lot at the Mulan Art Centre (Warruyanta). We have been busy painting, weaving and making jewellery. We have been discussing many things.

We have recently opened up the painting at Mulan Art Centre and Warlayirti has been helping us (with this). We are all variously speakers of Walmatjarri, Kukatja, Pintupi, Jaru and Ngardi. Yeah, and we all paint together with the support of Warlayirti Art Centre. Kururrungku (Billiluna) is there too. Warlayirti helps promote all of us mob. And we support other communities too. Yeah that’s all.

volunteer with us

Volunteers are welcome to work at the art centre! If you have specific skills that can contribute to our enterprise please let us know. We welcome all skills from Carpentry to photography. 

Volunteers must apply in writing to the Manager of the art centre director@balgoart.org.au along with a copy of their CV and references and outlining how you think you can contribute. 

Volunteers are required to work in a range of capacities during their time at the art centre. Day to day duties range from assisting in the studio by mixing paints or making tea to driving 4WD or packing art works for the mail.   

Basic volunteer accommodation is provided.  

From time to time we will call out for Volunteers on our social media accounts so stay tuned! 

Permits are required.  

Please contact the Art Centre for more information. 

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