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Mrs Woods and ‘Ere
, 2013

by Karla Dickens

inkjet print (sheet: 76.5 cm x 110.0 cm, image: 66.0 cm x 100.0 cm, frame: 90.1 cm x 122.7 cm depth 4 cm)

Tjayanka Woods (c.1935-2014), Pitjantjatjara artist and cultural custodian, lived a semi-nomadic life as a child, hunting goannas, lizards and emu and gathering bush foods, travelling by foot, on donkeys and camels and in trucks. Pitjantjajara country lies across the far north west of South Australia, into the Northern Territory and Western Australia; much of the area became the APY, or Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in 1981. Tjayanka Woods lived near Blackstone, about 60km west of the corner of SA and NT in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands, northwest of the APY – just on halfway on the diagonal line between Kalgoorlie and Alice Springs. She was associated with Spinifex Art Project, and having woven tjanpi, hair and feathers from a young age, making sculptural, wearable and practical objects, sold works through the Tjanpi Desert Weavers enterprise. Her acrylic on canvas paintings depict the Minyma Kutjara tjukurpa (the two sisters dreaming) and the Kungkarrangkalpa (seven sisters story), sometimes featuring her grandfather as an eagle flying overhead. From 2005 onward her works have been acquired by the NGV, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the National Gallery and the National Museum.

Karla Dickens, a Wiradjuri artist, has a diverse practice across the mediums of painting, photography, mixed media and installation. In 2013 she spent a couple of weeks with Mrs Woods and other senior Pitjantjara artists researching the story of the Seven Sisters. The result of her visit was a multimedia work, Taking back the stars, which was included in Defying Empire, the third National Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia, and subsequently acquired by the City of Sydney Civic Collection. Dickens’s works, like Mrs Woods’s, are held by major institutions across Australia. This photograph was part of Dickens’s 2016 exhibition Black and Blue.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2019
Accession number: 2019.1