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Artist BiographiesBiographies of Irrkerlantye Artists


Artists with the Irrkerlantye art centre all live and work in the Alice Springs region and many have strong connections with the Santa Teresa community southeast of Alice Springs. Short biographies are given below for the artists represented on our Web site:

To see paintings by these artists, go to our pages of Irrkerlantye paintings.

Margaret Turner

Based in Alice Springs, Margaret has worked at the Irrkelantye Learning Centre for many years. She is an important Eastern Arrente Elder, and a talented artist and educator.

Margaret has devoted many years to the learning centre to ensure that young people have an opportunity to be educated.

Margaret Turner

"I was born out in the bush around the Harts Range area. We lived traditional way in the station area, my parents worked on the stations looking after goats and watering the garden. Then we went to Arltunga and my parents left me there at the mission because there wasn't much food around. The mission people were looking after kids and sending them to school there. I was around 12 years old and I stayed there for 2 or 3 years. Then my parents took me back to Mt Riddock Station, I worked as a nanny then. In 1955 I went to Santa Teresa, back to the dormitory. I lived there and got married and had all my families."

"Now I live in Alice Springs, interpreting that's my job today, for government, police, hospital and land council. I was awarded an OAM for community service. I used to see a lot of painting done with my fathers and brothers, that's where I learnt. Paintings I can do is about hunting and teaching young girls about firestick and ochres. The painting I learnt I kept it in my head and I sketch those designs for my children to paint."

Cathy Turner

I grew up at Santa Teresa and went to school there. We shifted back to Alice Springs and I went to college until Year 10. Then I went up to Darwin with my family and lived at Maningrida with my sisters. In 1989 I came back to Alice Springs and lived in town and on our outstation. I used to see my aunties doing paintings and I used to help them a little bit. I started doing my own paintings in 1998. I painted for Mbantua Store. I used to get their canvas and sell the paintings back to them. Then I came to Irrkerlantye Arts.

Amelia Turner

Amelia was born and grew up at Santa Teresa. She went to school there and then in Melbourne at a technical college. At the college she was the only Aboriginal student. She moved to Darwin and worked at a shop in Maningrida for about 10 years. Amelia was taught stories and how to paint from her grandmother. She also learnt from her grandfather. Now she tells the stories she learnt through her paintings. Amelia Turner

Gloria Doolan

I was born in Alice Springs and when I was one or two years old we moved around a lot to places where my parents were working. When I was almost three years old my family and I moved to Mt Isa in Queensland. When I was fifteen we came back to Alice and moved out to Santa Teresa and that's where I showed my true side of being an artist. I started painting banners for the church at Santa Teresa for special feast days. In Keringke Art Centre was started. We did screenprinting, silk painting and linoprinting on T-shirts. That's when I first started painting. I remember when I first saw a dot painting I couldn't understand the meaning of the design but just saw a pretty painting. I started to learn what its meanings were when my cousin sister started telling us the stories as she was doing the paintings. This is how we find our true selves and who we are. Now I am really glad I've learnt to look and listen.

Jane Doolan

I was born in Queensland at Mt Isa while my family were living over there. We came back to Alice Springs when I was twelve years old to my fathers family. We moved to Santa Teresa and I did some work at the art centre there, I learnt to do pottery. I started painting three years ago, helping my mum with some of her paintings, then I started doing my own. I also like painting beads and clap sticks. I live at Amoonguna near Alice Springs and I am happy living with my family and my daughter.

Ruby Doolan

My father passed away a long time ago and I followed my grandmother to Todd River Downs. I stayed there with them, then I went back again to Little Well on camels. I used to work cleaning, working in the kitchen and milking nanny goats. My mum came and picked me up after two years and we went to Arltunga. Long time after I came to my real mother and I stayed in Santa Teresa with her. I went to Loves Creek and met my husband there and started a family. I got seven kids in all. We lived on Allambi Station, at Santa Teresa, in Alice Springs and in Mt Isa where we stayed for 12 years. I came back to Santa Teresa, then came back to Alice Springs for good. Now I live at Amoonguna outside Alice Springs, I been there four years. I travel everywhere! I started painting when we came back to Alice Springs, get some canvas and do a bit of painting to sell. I started painting properly when I joined Irrkerlantye Arts in 2000. I paint all the time now.

Faye Oliver

Before I went to school I lived with my parents at Undoolya station, that's where I grew up. My Dad did stock work there. My sister took me to Santa Teresa when I was around ten years old to start school. I left school after Year 11 and worked as a health worker and in the Literacy Unit. Then I went to work at the Keringke art centre where I worked for 6 years and became an assistant art coordinator. We had our first exhibition "Mpwellare" in 1990 at Araluen, Alice Springs. My painting was also exhibited at the Northern Territory Art Award in Darwin. I was chosen to go to Sydney for the Australian Bicentennial Craft Show in 1988 and then again in 1989. In 1991 we went to New Zealand to exhibit in Wellington and Auckland. My paintings sold interstate and in America. I moved to Alice Springs in 1995. I was taught how to do paintings by Sister Edith, one of the Sacred Heart Nuns, and from my cousins Gabrielle Wallace, Kathleen Wallace and my auntie Therese Ryder. I do some work for the Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre and for Mbantua Art Gallery Now I work at Irrkerlantye Arts.

Queenie and Heather Kenny

We were born near the Queensland border at Menace Creek and used to go everywhere place to place when we were kids, we used to follow our parents. Sometimes my father worked in the mines going down deep looking for copper. They go down with windlass and lamp. Sometimes we go for holiday, sit down with other people. We used to get mica, looks like paper and glass. We used to help our parents find the mica. My sister Ruby and I we grow up in bush all the time. We come back Harts Range way and I had a job there at the police station, cleaning houses, kitchen, that sort of thing. Welfare brought me to Alice Springs. I married and had my family here. Then we moved to Ernabella and I worked at the School cooking lunches for the school kids. In 2001 I moved back to Alice Springs to Amoonguna Community to be with my sister Ruby. I started painting that year at Irrkerlantye Arts. I watch my sister Ruby painting and I want to try too.

Therese Ryder

Therese was born in 1946 at Todd River Station east of Alice Springs. Her parents worked on stations mustering cattle and cooking. As a young child she travelled around from place to place with her family. "We moved around to where other members of family were staying." When she was six or seven she was taken to Santa Theresa Mission. She lived in the dormitories with the other Arrernte children and went to school. This is where she was also taught to paint water colours. In 1978 she moved to Alice Springs. Theresa has worked with the Institute of Aboriginal Development in the Language Department where she was one of the main contributors on the Central and Eastern Arrernte Dictionary. She has also worked at the Catholic High School in the Aboriginal Unit teaching the Arrernte language."My paintings are east of Alice Springs. Around Ross River is my father's country. Aboriginal people must paint their country and their stories. This is my contribution to these places and my family the Arrernte people."

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