Anangu are the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra traditional owners from the Western and Central Deserts of Australia - also known as the NYP and APY Lands.
Maruku Arts is one of the oldest independent not-for-profit arts organisations in the region, with more than 35 years experience serving communities across three states: Northern Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia.
Maru means ‘black’ and Ku means ‘belonging to’ which translates as Belonging to Anangu (the Aboriginal people of the region).
The Maruku organisation was established around the idea that traditional methodologies together with contemporary art forms, can be supported and promoted by their own people from their own homelands. The vision asserts a powerful connection to country.
Based at Mutitjulu, in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, Maruku represents up to 800 artists across 22 communities in the region.
Before stories and motifs began to emerge in contemporary practices, like painting on canvas, there was carving, engraving, painting on the body for ceremony, etched maps and stories on rock faces and the passing down of sacred knowledge through a version of the classroom blackboard - sand drawing.
In the early 1980s Maruku´s founding members understood their organisation would protect and promote Anangu culture, sovereignty and custodianship, and would create an opportunity for Anangu voices to speak and live on for future generations to access.
Anangu have been resilient despite a history fraught with struggle: colonial invasion, frontier wars, mission days, stolen generations, nuclear testing, the Land Rights struggle, the 1985 Handback, the Intervention, disproportionate incarceration rates and the list goes on.
Through the sharing of their knowledge Anangu are able to trigger curiosities about Indigenous cultures, and help audiences understand that there was civilisation in Australia long before Europeans arrived on their first ships; contrary to the Terra Nullius hunter-gatherer school of thought and the misleading version of history that is taught in schools.
Anangu recognise that we share space, that we do not own it. The facades covering the culture wars that surround us are crumbling, and reveal a space for new ways of thinking. The truth about Indigenous cultures, their literacies, technologies and systems are aligning within this space, as the place for the oldest knowledge to emerge in the 21st century.
Nganana tjamunya, kaminya kulira wanalpai: ngura nganampa tjuta, Tjukurpa tjutatjara. Kulilkatipaila walytja piti, ngura, Tjukurpa winki. Kuruntula uwankara kulilpai
"We listen to our grandfathers and grandmothers and we follow their teachings: of all our lands and the stories and law that they hold. We can feel our families, our country, our culture in everything we do. We hear everything in our hearts. We hear it all with our heart, mind, body and soul as one."
Rene Kulitja is most recognised for her painting Yananyi Dreaming which covered the fuselage of a QANTAS Boeing 737-800.
She is a respected senior community representative, cultural custodian and a founding director of Walkatjara Art. Rene is a current Director and previous chair of Maruku Arts.
She has exhibited in major exhibitions regionally, nationally and internationally and has collaborated widely over the years, including with Fiona Hall for the Venice Biennale in 2015.
Recently she has toured America with the Central Australian Aboriginal Womens Choir, performed ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for NAIDOC Week, lead discussions with the Seven Sisters Songline curatorium, and completed a Tjanpi Weavers collective installation piece for the National Museum of Australia in 2019 with artists including Niningka Lewis.
Rene was involved as a senior Anangu representative in the 2017 National Constitutional Convention held at Uluru. Following this summit she directed the painting of the Statement from the Heart in canvas form. This painting was able to bind the discussions that took place with the written statement in a tangible way. Resolutions from the Convention were delivered to Federal Parliament while Malcolm Turnbull was still the Prime Minister of Australia and were largely dismissed, despite being a defining moment in the history of Indigenous Struggle.
This painting became the starting point for the Kunturi Kulini (meaning Heart Listening) exhibition at Artsite Galleries in 2018.
Meanwhile the painted Statement from the Heart has travelled extensively around Australia, gathering signatures and support from Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike.
Other names include: Rene Wanuny Kulitja.
Francine Kulitja is the eldest daughter of Maruka Director Rene Kulitja, and granddaughter of renowned wood carvers and Maruku founders, the late Topsy Tjulyata and Walter Pukutiwara.
She grew up in Kaltukatjara (Docker River) in the far south west corner of the Northern Territory and spends time in the Mutitjulu Community in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with her family, who have always been strongly involved in traditional land management, tourism and the arts.
Francine Kulitja paints the Tjukurpa and Creation Stories including the Seven Sisters or Kungkarankalpa stories she has inherited through her mother, her grandmother and her grandfather.
Niningka Lewis was a finalist in the 2018 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA) at The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT).
Niningka Lewis has had multiple solo exhibitions, with over 40 curated and group exhibitions in Australia including the 2013 String Theory, Focus on Contemporary Australian Art exhibition at Sydney´s, Museum of Contemporary Art.
Born in the 1950s between the mission settlement of Areyonga and Tempe Downs cattle station in the Northern Territory, she grew up in the Ernabella area, making regular family trips throughout her traditional lands. After living and working in Kalka for many years and then Mutitjulu in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, she is now based back in Ernabella.
She is a leading artist with Ernabella Arts as painter/ceramicist, and works with Tjanpi Desert Weavers, sculpting and weaving native grass artefacts.
Freda Teamay is a a young emerging Anangu artist and contemporary Tjanpi Desert weaver who has exhibited at the Art Gallery of South Australia along side Sappers & Shrapnel: Contemporary Art and the Art of the Trenches in 2016-2017. Sappers & Shrapnel also reminds us that conflict occurs in broader contexts than theatres of war. The Tjanpi Desert Weavers (Rene Wanuny Kulitja, Judy Ukampari Trigger, Erica Ikungka Shorty, Lucille Armstrong, Mary Katajuku Pan, Janet Inyika, Niningka Lewis and Freda Teamay) use camouflage military garments for Tjituru-tjituru, 2016, evoking the enduring anxiety of the dispossessed.
Beryl DeRose is minyma Anangu, an Aboriginal woman from Kaltukatjara (Docker River) and now living in Mutitjulu within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. A wood carver (punu) and talented emerging painter with Walkatjara Art, she performs a key role there as an art centre worker and advisor.
Beryl has been exhibiting since 2009, and her work was commissioned for the 2017 Uluru, Tili Tjuta, Field of Lights and in 2016 she participated in the 2016 SciArt project, Iwara (Tracks), Indigenous perspectives & scientific modeling celebrated together through art.
Yuka Trigger was born in the bush to the east of Uluru, and grew up at Areyonga in the Northern Territory. A Senior Traditional Owner for Uluru, she has worked as a school teacher, an Environmental and Cultural Management Consultant, Tour Guide, Artist and Pitjantjatjara Language teacher. A previous Maruku Chairperson, long time Uluru Kata Tjuta Board of Joint Management, Mutitjulu council (and former chair) and Health council member, Yuka stands strongly for her people´s traditional values as well as engaging in the challenges of current times. Yuka Trigger has also been involved in the development of Mani Mani a theatrical interpretation of Tjukurpa from Pirupakalarintja, west of Uluru. Yuku is the senior dancer for Kuniya or Python Tjukurpa at Uluru as seen in the National Park Cultural Centre. She is an experienced wood carver and a recognised grass sculptor of Tjanpi Desert Weavers.
Her work was exhibited in the Art Gallery of South Australia exhibition Sappers & Shrapnel: Contemporary Art and the Art of the Trenches in 2016-2017, and is also seen on the local Uluru shuttle bus.
Other names include: Judy Ukampari Trigger, Judy Trigger, Judy Trigger Yuka.
Selina Kulitja is minyma Anangu, from the Central Desert area of Australia. Part of her childhood was spent in the community of Areyonga before her family returned to their ancestral lands and the community of Kaltukatjara, or Docker River in the Petermann Ranges. Her mother, senor artist, Nyinku Kulitja, has taught her skills through the Tjukurpa, the Law and way of life governing their country. Selina began carving in her own right in the early 1990s and began painting with Maruku in 2007 and takes inspiration from her sister-in-law, Rene Kulitja.
Recently Selina has become an ambassador for Maruku, bringing her people´s art to a wider audience through workshops and exhibitions. Selina also performs a crucial role as a Health Worker in her local community clinic and is an active community and council member.
Lucinda James is a young Aboriginal woman who grew up in Mutitjulu within the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. The grandaughter of Maruku founders, Walter Puktiwara and Topsy Tjulyata, and niece of Rene Kulitja, she has grown up with a strong carving and painting background and she is considered one of Mutitjulu Communites young emerging artists.