aboriginal artist: Naomi Kantjuriny

Naomi Kantjuriny paints for Tjala Arts.

Tjala Arts is based in Amata. Amata is an Aboriginal community situated in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunyjatjara (APY) Lands. 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 among the picturesque Musgrave Ranges, approximately 120km south of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and 500km southwest of Alice Springs.

Tjala Arts is an Aboriginal owned and managed corporation that sells artwork on behalf of its members. Described by Senior Artists Nyurpaya Kaika as the “true heart of Amata Community”, the Art Centre is a professional Artmaking studio where culture is celebrated by Anangu of three generations on a daily basis. Artworks by Tjala Arts are held in many of the state and National Art Institutions and museums across Australia and the world, as well as in high profile private collections in Australia and internationally.

Tjala Arts is known for its diverse range of styles, energetic mark making and rich colorful palette. Artists explore Tjukurpa ( stories, dreaming) of the region and create paintings which are filled with artistic integrity that immediately captivate their audience. Tjala Arts artists embrace a variety of media including acrylic paint on linen, traditional punu (wood work) and tjanpi (sculptural fibre weaving).Young Artists also explore more contemporary mediums including photography, film and sound work. Tjala Arts enables economic independence for its artists. Through strong governance, the art centre has created widespread financial gain for families in the community and surrounding homelands.

Tjala Arts was started by the women of Amata in 1997 and was originally called Minymaku Arts (Women’s Arts). It was renamed in 2006 to reflect the involvement of Anangu men in the art centre.

Aboriginal art and craft has been produced in Amata since the 1960s, initially sold through the occasional exhibition or to the very few passing tourists or government employees.

In 1981 a group of senior men and women from Amata took their punu (wood carvings) to Uluru (Ayers Rock) to gain access to the expanding tourist market. This enterprise eventually expanded to become Maruku Arts.
Following the success of this venture and the continued expansion of craft practices including batik and floor-hook rugs, the art centre was established and the artists expanded their skills to fine arts practice, with a particular focus on painting (acrylic on canvas/linen) and printmaking.

The centre is now one of the ten largest art centres in Australia, producing collectable fine art of the highest standard.

Tjala is the Pitjantjatjara word for Honey Ant – a traditional bush food, it is also the Tjukurpa or creation story for the Amata area. Tjala artists create works that reflect the extraordinary lives and stories of the Amata community.