Tjala Men’s Collaborative

Place Oceania: Australia, South Australia, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, Amata
Accession Number AWM2019.167.1
Collection type Art
Measurement Unframed: 240 x 200 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description acrylic on linen
Maker Ken, Kunmanara (Brenton)
Mitakiki, Hector
Mitakiki, Junior
Mitakiki, Kamarin
Wikilyiri, Mick
Place made Australia: South Australia, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, Amata
Date made 2018
Conflict Period 2010-2019

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


This painting was created by 2 senior and 3 emerging male artists from Amata in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands for the exhibition 'Weapons for the Soldier', curated by Vincent Namitjira (Iwantja Arts), Anwar Young (Tjala Arts), and Derek Thompson (Ernabella Arts). The exhibition was the result of a major collaborative process, showcasing works by Aboriginal and non-Indigenous artists that explore the themes of connection to Country, protecting Country, weaponry, and warfare.

The exhibition concept was in part concieved following the Memorial's 2017 commissioning of 19 senior male APY artists that produced two paintings that acknowledged the importance of defence of Country to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. 'Weapons for the soldier' further evolved this idea into a distinct examination on the themes of weaponry and warfare, and aimed "to provide a unique platform from which to explore diverse perspectives of struggle and survival and deepen our understanding of a shared history".

The symbols in this painting represent the myriad and complex landscape of Warakurna, Western Australia and Amata Community, APY Lands. In addition, it reflects the weaponry used by Pitjantjatjara men while hunting, and overall tells a particular story of two brothers, one wati [man], and one tjitji [child]. While it is not a secret story, it is a Mitakiki family story, learnt from Junior Mitakiki's great-grandfather, passed down to his grandmother, Mona Witakiki. Of this painting, Kunmanara (Brenton) Ken recalled: "This is a story of Country and a story of hunting. We have always worked tjungu [together] because its family way and we are painting with family."

"When I was a youngfella I used to watch my father make kulata [spears], miru [spear throwers], kali [boomerangs]. These are men's weapons. The kulata is like a rifle, we would go hunting with it, looking for malu [kangaroo], emu, ngintaka [perentie lizard] and rabbit - everything! We ate different bush tucker, different kuka [meat] back then. My mother used to make damper and would find tawal-tawalpa and some kampurarpa - bush roots or bush tomato - for us. All of this is good meat, good mai [good food], its our ananguku kuka and it keeps us healthy and strong." - Kunmanara (Brenton) Ken in 'Weapons for the Soldier' exhibition catalogue, 2018, p. 48.