Artist Sharon Porter painting at Martumili Artists’ studio in Kunawarritji.
Share a Cuppa Tea with Martumili Artist Sharon Porter. She’s been painting up a storm in the Kunawarritji
art shed since arriving earlier this year, and while she’s a fresh addition to Martumili Artists, Sharon brings with her a lifetime of painting experience. She tells us how she began her artistic journey alongside her grandmother, Katjarra Butler, then joining Tjarlili Art in Tjukurla community and working as an independent artist in Alice Springs before finally arriving here.
Sharon Porter loves painting, so much so that she arrives punctually at 9am each day to begin working at the Kunawarritji art shed, her regularity testament to her dedication as an artist. For Sharon, painting has been a lifelong journey that began in her formative years as she sat and watched her grandmother, esteemed artist Katjarra Butler, observing her creative practice.
The profound influence of her grandmother is unmistakable in both the style and subject matter of Sharon’s work. Most often she depicts Katjarra’s Country in the Kiwirrkurra area, interwoven with the region’s rich jukurrpa (dreaming) narratives. While paying homage to this heritage, Sharon imbues her work with a distinctive flair that is uniquely her own- a “different way” characterised by harmonious pastel palettes and carefully considered compositions.
Hi Sharon! Where are you at the moment?
I’m in Kunawarritji, in the art centre. Me and Bugai are the only ones here today. I’m here every day, doing a lot of painting. I come every morning, 9 o’clock!
How do you like your tea?
Tea with a milk, one sugar, biscuit and all!
Can you tell us a bit about your early history?
In Kintore I been grow up with my grandfather and grandmother. I was moving around between Warakurna, Tjukurla, Kaltukatjarra [also known as Docker River]. We always moved around, visiting family. I did my schooling in Kintore, and I went to Alice Springs, Yirara College, in high school.
I moved to Kunawarritji with my partner Nigel. That’s Kumpaya [Girgirba’s] son. We’re living here with Roma, staying in her house. She’s my aunty.
When did you start painting?
I been watch my grandmother painting with Papunya Tula [Artists]. I was watching her when I must have been thirteen years old. I was learning about painting. I always helped my grandmother, mixing the colour and give it to her so she can do her story. I’ve been painting for a long time. I also do painting with Tjarlili [Art] and in Alice Springs.
Can you tell us about your style?
I do my grandmother Katjarra’s way. I do it my different way with the colour- orange, purple, pink, white. I do Katjarra’s story, but different way.
What do you like to paint about?
I like to paint my grandmother’s Country around Kiwirrkurra. I been see that place, Kiwirrkurra way. Rockhole, dam, waterhole, also plenty of yukuri (green grass, vegetation), sandhills and lot of rock everyway. I do the dreaming story for my grandmother’s Country.
Around that area all the mima (women) sitting down next to two rocks and one rockhole. They was eating bush tucker, yellow berries, and they was drinking water from one rockhole. They was in one place, and they was eating a big round one, that yellow berry. They was looking round and round for more. They never went, they stayed sitting in one place. They still there, they turned into rocks there.
What else do you like doing besides painting?
I like to go hunting for lunki (witchetty grub) and for goanna. Good hunting around here!
What’s next for you?
One day I want to have my own exhibition, like my grandmother. Maybe in Perth for next year. I’d like to do a big painting for exhibition. I might start next week!
Words by Ruth Leigh.