Located in the community of Wirrimanu (Balgo Hills) in Western Australia, Warliyirti Artists is a renowned Aboriginal Art center that celebrates the vibrant cultural heritage and artistic talents of eight language groups across four communities.
We have always enjoyed our culture. We never stopped. Always dancing and singing, teaching our kids and keeping our culture strong. Here in Balgo. We keep our ceremonies, we visit our Country. That’s why we still live here. That’s why we paint. That story from our Tjamu and Tjatja (grandfather and grandmother). Our rockholes and waters where we used to live. We paint that. Our bush tucker and lovely bush potatoes! That’s what we paint. This is our story.
Eva Nagomarra, Senior Artist - Text Warliyirti Artists
With a rich history and a commitment to cultural preservation, Warliyirti Artists has become a beacon of artistic expression and cultural pride.
Foundation and Historical Context:
Established in 1987, Warlayirti Artists represents more than 200 artists across four communities in the Kutjungka region – Kururrungka (Billiluna), Mulan, Kundat Djaru (Ringer Soak) and Wirrimanu (Balgo).
The community of Wirrimanu itself has a unique history, stemming from the establishment of a mission by the Catholic Church in the 1930s, which brought together Indigenous people from various language groups. Over time, Wirrimanu became a melting pot of cultures, fostering artistic collaborations and cross-cultural exchanges.
Cultural Diversity and Language Groups:
The artists of Warliyirti Artists come from eight language groups, Kukatja, Ngardi, Djaru, Warlpiri, Walmajarri, Wangkajunga, Pintupi and Manyjiljarra– each with their own history and stories to tell. These languages and cultural traditions are deeply embedded in the artworks created by the artists, reflecting the richness and diversity of the Indigenous communities in the region.
Traditional and Contemporary Aboriginal Art:
Warliyirti Artists showcases a wide range of traditional and contemporary artforms. Artists draw inspiration from Dreaming stories, ancestral connections, and the breathtaking landscapes of the Kimberley region. Traditional art techniques such as dot painting, cross-hatching, and ochre application are combined with innovative approaches to create visually stunning and culturally significant artworks.
Strong Cultural Iconography:
The artworks created by Warliyirti Artists are characterised by strong cultural iconography. The use of symbolic motifs, intricate patterns, and bold colors represents important Dreaming stories, spiritual beliefs, and the connection between land, people, and animals. The art serves as a visual narrative, communicating stories, knowledge, and cultural wisdom to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences.
Community Engagement and Empowerment:
Warliyirti Artists actively engages with the community, providing a space for cultural exchange, skill development, and artistic expression. The art center plays a vital role in preserving and promoting cultural practices, as well as empowering artists by providing economic opportunities and a platform to share their stories and perspectives with the wider world.
Collaborations and Cultural Revitalisation:
Warliyirti Artists fosters collaborations between artists, both within the community and with artists from other regions. These collaborations lead to the exchange of artistic techniques, the revitalisation of traditional practices, and the creation of unique and innovative artworks that bridge the gap between past and present.
International Recognition and Exhibitions:
The exceptional talent and artistic contributions of Warliyirti Artists have gained international recognition. The art center has been invited to showcase its artworks in major galleries and exhibitions around the world, including Australia, Europe, and the United States. This recognition not only highlights the artistic excellence of the artists but also raises awareness and appreciation for Indigenous art and culture.
Cultural Education and Awareness:
Warliyirti Artists actively promotes cultural education and awareness through workshops, artist talks, and exhibitions. These initiatives allow visitors to learn about the cultural significance of the artworks, engage with the artists, and develop a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture, history, and connection to country.
Economic Sustainability and Community Development:
Warliyirti Artists contributes to the economic sustainability and community development of Wirrimanu and surrounding areas. The art center provides a source of income for artists, supporting their families and providing opportunities for economic empowerment. The success of Warliyirti Artists has also led to the establishment of other community initiatives, such as art-related training programs and tourism ventures.
Through the creation of visually captivating artworks, community engagement, and international recognition, Warliyirti Artists Aboriginal Art centre continues to be a driving force in preserving and promoting Indigenous art and culture, while fostering economic sustainability and community empowerment.