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Ninuku region Blackstone Community and Papulankutja Artists


Blackstone is situated in Western Australia between the Gibson Desert and the Great Victoria Desert at the foot of the picturesque Blackstone Ranges. It is the home of the Papulankutja Aboriginal community and has a plentiful supply of ground water and bush tucker.

Map of APY communities including Blackstone

The Blackstone Ranges were a major population area for Aboriginal people of the region. There is evidence of habitation over a long period in the form of rock engravings and paintings, and camping sites where grinding implements, stone flints and old fire sites are found. It is still an important ceremonial area and many traditional stories and Dreaming tracks associated with rituals are found in the region.

In 1975 several family groups who had traditional ties to the Blackstone area moved back and established a small outstation, camping close to a windmill and tank. After a few ups and downs the community strengthened, developed a good infrastructure and moved to its current location. 

There has been a long history of art and craft at Papulankutja which is an important source of income for the community. The new Art Centre is the hub for this activity where men and women gather to create their art.

Papulankutja Artists working at Blackstone

Most art and crafts are in keeping with the lifestyle of local residents and are done outside around the campfire on the ground. They include paper making, woodwork, grass baskets, jewellery made from nuts and seeds, and acrylic painting on canvas.

Papulankutja artists paint their country and depict some of the important stories of this region such as the Wati Kutjarra (two men), Seven Sisters, Pukara (a waterhole) and Ilurrpa (another waterhole). Paintings by community artists are available on our Blackstone Paintings pages.

The Aboriginal people of the region have a strong history of working with their hands.  This is continued today, with artists making wonderful sculptures from wood and Spinifex (desert grass) as well as practical items for ceremonial life.

Spinifex car - Telstra award winner
Blackstone artists with their winning entry in the
Telstra Indigenous Art award for 2005

The new centre for art is becoming a strong venue for culture where artworks from the community are properly housed together with collected stories of Papulankutja's cultural history and people.

Artists include Kantjupayi Benson, Margaret Donegan, Jimmy Donegan, Edith Lyons, Cliff Reid, Jean Lane, Angilya Mitchell and others. For details, see our page of Blackstone Artist biographies.


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