Nganampa Manta (our Country)

Place Oceania: Australia, South Australia, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands
Accession Number AWM2018.594.1
Collection type Art
Measurement Sheet: 120 x 150 cm; Overall - Conservation: 1110 mm x 1454 mm
Object type Painting
Physical description unu (ashes), mingkulpa (bush tobaccos), burnt tyre, earth pigments, PVA glue on paper, with pierced and burnt alterations
Maker Fielding, Robert Punnagka
Place made Australia: South Australia, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands
Date made 2018
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


This drawing by Robert Fielding was made in response to the Memorial's 2017 commission with the APY Lands Art Centre Collective and tells the story of Aboriginal Australians defending Country. Using materials from his home community and surrounding country, Fielding has brought to life the past whilst also evoking a contemporary understanding of relation to country and the way this changes. Most importantly, he reflects on the past, present and future conflicts and those who have fought to protect this connection to the earth and country. Whilst Fielding has used a double-sided piercing technique to evoke the passage of bullets in battle, it also references the old art of punu (carving and burning of wood) in the production of weapons and cultural objects, drawing parallels between different methods of defence and protection of country.

Fielding has appropriated an image of Lance Corporal Charles Tednee Blackman held in the Memorial's collection (see RCDIG0001094). Of this work, Fielding stated: "Aboriginal people have been defending and caring for manta (earth) forever and Charles Blackman like many who have come after him will do so at any cost. The battle Blackman was apart [sic] of is the same battle today's Aboriginal people fight, a battle to defend and care for our manta, Australia."

Robert Punnagka Fielding is from the community of Mimili in the far north west of South Australia, in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. Fielding has worked as an arts worker at Mimili Maku for several years and has been painting and Mimili Maku since 2005. His diverse background and his experience growing up across two very different cultures - Western and traditional Aboriginal law - influence his work. His paintings are symbolic and allow him to connect with his family history, heritage and culture. Fielding is very family orientated and often depicts his relatives as rock-holes, creek beds and sand dunes within his work. He has been the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including winning the 2017 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) for his work on paper 'Milkali Kutju [One blood]'.

Lance Corporal Charles Tednee Blackman was one of the earliest known Indigenous soldiers to enlist in the war effort, joining in August 1915. He was followed by his two older brothers, 3174 Private Thomas Blackman and 3173 Private Alfred John Blackman, who enlisted in 1916 and 1917 respectively. Unfortunately Private Alfred John Blackman died fighting on the Western Front in October 1917, while Lance Corporal Charles Blackman and Private Thomas Blackman both returned to Australia.

Lance Corporal Blackman was born around 1896 to Emily Deshong (Waka Waka) and Thomas Blackman (Goreng Goreng) in the Childers area. Prior to enlistment, Lance Corporal Charles Blackman worked as a farm hand and labourer for Mr John Herbert Salter on his property in Biggenden, returning there after his service ended in 1919. In the mid-1920s Lance Corporal Blackman relocated to Feluga, working on Pedly’s farm and then moving around the region. Sometime between the 1940s and 50s, Charles Tednee Blackman changed his name to Charles Thomas Graham, settling in the Tully area.