Martumili Artists was established by Martu people living in the communities of Parnpajinya (Newman), Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu, Kunawarritji, Irrungadji and Warralong, and it draws on strong influences of Aboriginal art history. The artists and their families are the traditional custodians of vast stretches of the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts as well as the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) area. Most Martu people maintained an entirely independent, nomadic desert lifestyle until the 1950s and 1960s when they walked into settlements in response to a long and severe drought. Today, Martu people live in their own communities and regularly visit regional centres such as Newman and Port Hedland.
Martumili Artists are based in the East Pilbara Arts centre in Newman, with artists working in the 6 other remote East Pilbara communities. Martumili Artists are an activity of the Shire of East Pilbara, and gratefully acknowledge BHP Billiton as their Principal Partner.
Chatting with former Martumili Artists manager, Gabrielle Sullivan, discover the humble beginnings of our now legendary annual Christmas sale, when Martumili Artists’ office space comprised of a single desk in the Shire of East Pilbara’s Council Chambers, and the sale event saw the floors, tables and walls being covered with artworks for three days.
“Bugai always tells about Wantili (Warntili, Canning Stock Route Well 25) because she grew up around Wantili. She saw whitefellas there for the first time.”
– Bugai Whyoulter, as translated by her grandson, Cyril Whyoulter
We chatted with Martumili artist Helen Dale Samson in the leadup to the Christmas sale about her exciting recent collaboration with Specsavers Australia for their Fred Hollows project, which has resulted in the production of three gorgeous, limited-edition frame styles featuring her artwork, ’Puntawarri’.
From stretching canvas, mixing paint to driving 850km to deliver materials. The production of one painting requires a whole team of dedicated arts workers who operate behind the scenes to ensure artists have access to materials, so they can do what they do best – make art!
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.
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.