Patjarr is one of Australia's most remote communities, located
on the edge of the Gibson Desert in the far east of Western
Australia. Kayili Artists is the community owned enterprise
for the Ngaanyatjarra people of Patjarr (Karilywara).
centre started in 2004 and aims to help artists to generate
income and to provide resources to sustain the community's
identity and cultural energy. The vitality and continuity
of culture in Patjarr is the primary ingredient in the strength
and individuality of the paintings.
Artists include Coiley Campbell, Arthur
Robertson, Jackie Giles, Aubrey Carnegie, Matjiwa Jones, Nancy
Carnegie, Ngipi Ward, Pulpura Davies and others. The artists
of Patjarr are recognised nationally and internationally for
the high quality of their work and many of them have exhibited
work through the Warburton Arts Project.
Patjarr is located 240 kilometres north of Warburton by road,
in the Clutterbuck Hills area of the Gibson Desert. It is
a small community that was established in 1992 as an outstation
of Warburton and has a population of around 30 people.
In the mid 1960s the Pintubi people from Patjarr
were moved from their Gibson Desert homelands by the State Government
and the Federal Weapons Research Establishment and relocated
to surrounding communities. This was to protect them, and other
people from the APY lands, from death or injury from the debris
which fell over a vast area of Central Australia during the
rocket research programmes of the 1960s and 70s. After the programmes
were closed down in the late 1970s, the desert people began
to return to their homelands and to their traditional way of
The Aboriginal people living at Patjarr were some
of the last groups to be contacted by Europeans. Native Patrol
Officers were bringing people to Warburton Mission from this
area as late as the start of the 1970s. Feeling uncomfortable
and unwelcome at Warburton, people moved back to their traditional
However, alarge portion of their country had been
declared the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve without their knowledge.
Declaration of the Reserve meant that people were prohibited
from hunting and gathering. Nevertheless, by 1992 people were
living at Patjarr and an outstation had been established.
In 1993 Ngaanyatjarra Council, acting on behalf
of the Traditional Owners, excised a permanent living area in
the Nature Reserve. In 1995 Patjarr Community became incorporated
and basic services were provided.
Art, culture and country
Art and craft is a significant means for expressing Ngaanyatjarra
and Ngaatjatjarra culture and identity and serves an important
role in inter-generational learning in the community.
Kayili Artists was set up in 2004 with a charter is to
help the artists of Patjarr to generate income and to
provide resources to sustain its identity and cultural
energy. The centre has an elegant building which was designed
and built by architecture staff and students from the
universities of NSW and South Australia.
Kayili Artists centre
The Traditional Owners of the Gibson Desert have
maintained continuous connections with their country. In 1998,
the Ngaanyatjarra Council decided to investigate the establishment
of an Indigenous
Protected Area (IPA) on their land. After five years of
consultation and planning, Ngaanyatjarra Council declared a
9.8 million hectare area as the Ngaanyatjarra Lands Indigenous
Protected Area. The declaration was made in August 2002 at Patjarr.
At least five endangered or vulnerable animal
species are known to occur in the Ngaanyatjarra IPA: mulgara;
marsupial mole; greater bilby; black-footed rock wallaby and
ghost bat. Through working with Yarnangu (traditional owners),
scientists have been able to improve the conservation status
of other species such as tjakura (the great desert skink). Ngaanyatjarra
IPA management will help Yarnangu to look after their country
in a manner compatible with traditional knowledge, providing
support for people to move about their country, and to pass
this knowledge and responsibility on to future generations.
Acknowledgement: some information is sourced from
the Ngaanyatjarra Council Handbook