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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Mrs Woods and ‘Ere, 2013

Karla Dickens

inkjet print on paper (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 4.0 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
Purchased 2019
© Karla Dickens

Accession number: 2019.1

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Karla Dickens (age 46 in 2013)

Tjayanka Woods (age 88 in 2013)

Related portraits

1. Mrs Woods, 2013. All Karla Dickens.

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

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The Look

Previous exhibition, 2019

Featuring striking photographic portraits of contemporary figures from the National Portrait Gallery collection, The Look is an aesthetic treat with a lashing of je ne sais quoi.

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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.