Ikuntji, or Haasts Bluff as it is known, is home to mainly
Luritja and Pintupi people of the central western desert. It
lies 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs and is nestled within
the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges. To the north is Ulampawarru
and Anyali (Mt Edward and Mt William), and to the south is the
stunning Mereenie Bluff. For a map of the region, click
here (opens a new browser window).
Mereenie Bluff at sunset, near Ikuntji
The mountains change colour with the light of the day moving
from the magenta and ultramarine subdue into pastel hues with
dramatic highlights that may only last a few seconds. To the
west there are soft red sand hills and stands of desert oak
- known locally as 'the jungle'.
Stories of long journeys of the Luritja people who travelled
from the west during the hard times of the 1930s moving from
rockhole to rockhole and cave to mountain are still told today
in the paintings of the senior law women at Ikuntji Art Centre.
The Ikuntji Women's Centre at Haasts Bluff was opened in 1992
under the influence of then community president Ester Jugadai.
Marina Strocchi, a then Melbourne based artist, was invited
to run the centre and the women began producing acrylic painting
on linen and handmade paper that quickly earned the centre an
impressive international reputation. Today about 15 key artists
exhibit around Australia and overseas where their work is held
in public galleries and private collections.
Bush trips organised by the centre are important to the artists
and their work. These trips are a source of inspiration for
their paintings as well as an opportunity for artists to get
back to their country, go hunting and affirm traditional links
with the land.
Bush trip to Alice Namitjinpa's country
- at rockhole
Ikuntji paintings are recognisable through their
bold colour and their inclusion of traditional motifs alongside
figurative and naturalistic imagery.The experimentation and
innovation for which the painting from Ikuntji is known, has
been received enthusiastically by collectors and galleries.
The combination of their rich cultural heritage - particularly
Tjukurrpa stories - which they draw upon for inspiration and
their highly developed sense of artistic freedom has produced
work that stands strongly in the context of international contemporary
Key painters to have emerged from Ikuntji are: