61 x 91 cm: acrylic on canvas
“A big flock flew over the top of me, then turned all together and flew towards the east.”
– Carol Williams
The galah is the most widespread and abundant of the Australian cockatoos and is found throughout the interior areas of the Australian mainland, including across Martu Country. The original habitat of the galah was chiefly inland semiarid shrublands and drier coastal areas to the north. The birds were typically found along watercourses with suitable nesting and roosting trees. Galahs forage mostly on the ground for seeds. In semi-arid shrublands they predominantly eat grass (Poaceae) and Wattle Acacia sp. seeds.
Galahs are sociable birds, often seen in flocks of more than 100 individuals. Flocks of up to 2,000 have also been recorded. Breeding birds generally pair for life and show a strong interest in the breeding hollow throughout the year, roosting nearby in dense timber each night. Carol has observed galahs throughout her life across Martu Country.
“It’s their home for them, real ngurra (home Country, camp). Real ngurra is where they been born and grow up.”
– Corban Clause Williams
The Western Desert term ‘ngurra’ is hugely versatile in application. Broadly denoting birthplace and belonging, ngurra can refer to a body of water, a camp site, a large area of Country, or even a modern house. People identify with their ngurra in terms of specific rights and responsibilities, and the possession of intimate knowledge of the physical and cultural properties of one’s Country. This knowledge is traditionally passed intergenerationally through family connections. Country for Martu is full of memory; not just the memory of their own movement through it, but also of their family. As summarised by Ngalangka Nola Taylor, “painting the ngurra, they do it to remember their connections.”
Painting ngurra, and in so doing sharing the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) stories and physical characteristics of that place, has today become an important means of cultural maintenance. Physical maintenance of one’s ngurra, like cultural maintenance, ensures a site’s wellbeing, and is a responsibility of the people belonging to that area.
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.