New Works


Cuppatea with Helen Dale Samson

When Specsavers approached Martumili Artists to be part of their Limited-Edition Frames Campaign, we immediately suggested artist Helen Dale Samson, knowing how much she loves sunglasses and fashion, and sure her vibrant works would look sensational printed on frames.

Now in its 8th year, the annual Limited-Edition Frames Campaign by Specsavers aims to promote the work of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artists while raising funds for The Fred Hollows Foundation. With First Nations people three times more likely to go blind from treatable causes than other Australians, and Helen Dale herself having suffered partial blindness due to a cataract in one eye, our involvement with this initiative has been especially meaningful.

For every pair of limited-edition frames featuring Dale’s artwork sold, $25 will support The Fred Hollows Foundation’s work in Australia. This includes sight restoration, improving access to eye health care and empowering a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals to provide culturally appropriate care. The best part about being involved with the project? With the help of The Foundation’s program partner, Lions Outback Vision, Helen was able to receive sight-restoring cataract surgery. Before the operation, Dale had vision only in one eye. Post surgery, Dale jubilantly exclaimed “Now I can see everything, all the colours. Good one!”

Dale’s work, ‘Puntawarri’, was chosen for printing on three frame styles as part of the campaign. Puntawarri holds significant cultural importance and is situated on the middle stretches of the Canning Stock Route and east of the Jigalong Mission (now Jigalong Aboriginal community) in Western Australia. The site forms part of Dale’s ngurra (home Country, camp), and as a young woman she spent much time with her extended family camping and hunting in the area. Dale has portrayed the region with her trademark style, a fusion of exquisite patterns and textured motifs offering multiple perspectives of Martu Country. Notably showcased in the frame prints are the rich flora of Martu Country, including walyji (Acacia tree) and nyalka (native tree with yellow flowers), where jurtipirri (stingless bee sugar bags) are harvested.

Hi Dale, wanyjalpa (what’s happening?) What are you up to right now? 

I’m here in Parnpajinya (Newman), painting for the Christmas sale.

What do you think about your frames?

I was happy, good one, happy one! I’m using that glasses, yeah! It’s nice, isn’t it?

Can you tell us about the painting featured on the glasses in the collection?

This one’s about Puntawarri. The flowers and the hills, wildflowers, little sandhills. Claypans. Warla (lake/ large claypan) there, kalyu (water). That’s my ngurra (home Country, camp), I been there! We was pujman (traditional, desert dwelling) there, we was walking around there hunting. I was there with my whole family, big mob. White trees, and a waru (fire), fire burning, we go out with the boys and burn, working around there, working with KJ [ranger group, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa] mob.

What was the film shoot like for your frames’ advert on SBS? [Watch it here!]

I took them out to Kalgan’s pool, and my granddaughter Chantelle came with me. I was a model- first time! [laughs]

What’s next? Are you working on any other product development ideas?

I’m making a skirt now, I want to wear my own skirt! We’ll get the paint here, I’ll keep working. We’re painting for the Christmas sale now too.

To date, Specsavers has donated more than $6 million towards the goal of closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health by supporting The Fred Hollow’s Foundation’s Indigenous Australia Program. You can contribute by grabbing a pair of Helen Dale Samson’s frames here!

Words by Ruth Leigh.

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Martumili Artists warns visitors that our website includes images and artworks of Artists who have passed away which may cause distress to some Indigenous people.

Martumili Artists acknowledges the Nyiyaparli and Martu people as the Traditional Owners of the land we live and work on. We also acknowledge the Traditional Owners throughout our country and our Elders; past, present and emerging.