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'Mantanguru: Beyond the Sand' exhibition set to be showcased in Fremantle

Rhiannon Clarke -

Located in the remote Musgrave Ranges in South Australia, Ernabella Arts is Australia's oldest independent contemporary art centre.

Travelling to this destination from Perth is challenging due to its remote location and travel restrictions, whilst COVID-19 has affected direct flights from Perth to Alice Springs and Uluru. This inconvenience has also affected artists planning to visit Ernabella Arts for an upcoming exhibition, curated by Artitja Fine Art Gallery.

Despite the travel difficulties, Artitja Fine Art Gallery Director, Anna Kanaris visited the community last year and witnessed the thriving creative atmosphere of Ernabella Arts.

"Visiting the art centre and quietly watching the artists create is always a profound experience," she said.

"It adds so much depth and knowledge to my own experience, which I can bring back and in the absence of the artists present the art in the most respectful and authentic manner possible,"

Mantanguru: Beyond the Sand is the gallery's third exhibition dedicated to the Ernabella Art Centre in the past three years.

It will showcase more than 20 paintings and 14 ceramic vases by renowned artists, including Freddy Ken's mesmerising Kulata Tjuta narratives and Rupert Jack's Pulukangka (Stockman) pieces.

Lexie Michael's bold designs, also featured in a resort wear collection, will bring vibrancy to the exhibition.

The artworks showcased in the exhibition depict the timeless narratives of the Anangu artists hailing from Ernabella (Pukatja, SA) in the Pitjantjatjara Lands, situated around 290 kms southeast of Uluru.

Originally established in 1948 as a craft studio specialising in hand-loomed woven fabrics and intricately crafted floor rugs, the Art Centre has since transformed into a renowned symbol of achievement both within the nation and across the globe.

"During my visit one of the artists was telling me about those early days, and her memories as a child of the craft making that took place in the centre," Kanaris said.

"There is a great amount of pride and ownership around the art centre's history and a strong sense of independence the artists have and hold on to."

Kanaris explains and reveals that it is the artists that have named the exhibition, Mantanguru means from the sand in Pitjantjatjara language, because they say 'that's how our stories were told before'.

Mantanguru: From the Sand is free to the public and opens Saturday 9 March 2024 at the Artitja Fine Art Gallery, South Fremantle.

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