The Martumili Artist crew out on the road in in Parrngur.
Martumili Artists’ Newman Studio
Ever wondered how the painting you just bought was made? At Martumili, there is a whole team of busy arts workers and field officers who work to coordinate the materials, support, and logistics required to make art in remote communities.
Martumili’s art production team operates from a base in Newman while also living and working in communities throughout the East Pilbara region (Parnngurr, Punmu, Kunawarritji, Jigalong, Nullagine, and Warralong). Each community has a studio where a dedicated field officer works each day to provide operational and professional support to artists.
Artist Carol Williams outside Martumili’s Parnngurr studio / Martumili’s Punmu studio
The studios are open to everyone in community, and are often bustling hubs of connection and conversation. While the creative process is different for all artists (for example, some artists prefer to paint at home or in solitude), many enjoy being surrounded by friends and family in the art sheds for marlpa (company). Currently, Martumili works with around 400 artists per year, with some having only created a few paintings, and others having long careers that see them travel Australia and the world with their art.
Whereas some artists are very clear on what they want to paint, what colours to use, what size brush and canvases to pick, others want to bounce these decisions off someone and talk through their ideas. The field officer and arts workers are in the studio every day, not only ensuring materials are available and ready, but also chatting and encouraging artists – they are sounding boards and offer advice when asked. They are there to help artists realise their goals and aspirations. Many Martu artists have been practicing for a long time and have learnt to paint by sitting down and watching their parents and grandparents, who are some of the most revered painters in the country.
Artists in Martumili’s Parnngurr and Punmu studios
Once paintings are completed, they are catalogued by the field officer and sent to Martumili in Newman on the weekly mail plane or driven back into town. From here, the gallery team sort through them, setting them aside for upcoming exhibitions and awards, or sharing them for sale in the gallery and online store. At the end of each week the phone rings off the hook with artists eager to find out if their painting has sold. They are keen to know where the painting has gone, and love seeing photos of the work once it arrives to its new home.
The mail plane and trusted Troopie / Punmu at dusk
The painting hanging on your wall has had a life traveling the desert before finding a home with you, and we’d love to see where it’s ended up! Please feel free to share photos of your Martumili artworks with us via email or on Instagram using the hashtag #martumiliathome.
Words by Zoe Martin.