Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands: Pmara Nurnaka (Our Country)

27 June - 20 July 2024
Exhibition Text

Featuring Stanley Ebatarinja, Vanessa Inkamala, Delray Inkamala, Dianne Inkamala, Reinhold Inkamala, Mandy Malbunka Lee, Selma Coulthard Nunay, Carita Coulthard, Hubert Pareroultja, Jonathon Price, Everard Pei Pei & Mervyn Rubuntja.


Artists here at Iltja Ntjarra Art Centre paint in the watercolour tradition of Albert Namatjira. Passed down through family lines, the Western Aranda artists have developed a style now known as the Hermannsburg School of Art. – Marisa Maher, Assistant Manager & Curator


This new collection of paintings on recycled road signs by the artists of Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre represents their relationship with the country on which they live, work and call home. The artists each in their own ways depict the Western Macdonnell Ranges, Alice Springs and Hermannsburg. They show places of cultural and historical significance and through using the imperative tone of the road sign, in both Western Aranda and English, are able to emphasise the importance of caring for these places and each other. – Tyler Arnold (Studio Coordinator)


Painting on repurposed road signs this unique and innovative body of work speaks to the way country is named and boundaries are drawn since colonisation. Whether used to direct traffic or to communicate specific rules, signs like these are crucial in governing our relationship to the land. In bright and arresting colours, they are used to convey laws and regulations across the continent. In the hands of the Iltja Ntjarra artists, their function is subverted to communicate important information relating to Country, its beauty, cultural practices and customary lore on traditional lands. Each sign has been painted with images of Country in the Hermannsburg style. Alongside these beautiful images are messages from First Nations artists that urge us to look after these precious lands for future generations, telling us that it is not something to be owned or taken advantage of for profit.


We want to introduce to people in urban environments the beautiful landscape of the Northern Territory. At the same time, we want to raise awareness about the issues we are facing. – Senior artist Mervyn Rubuntja


The Iltja Ntjarra artists have dedicated decades of committed artistic practice to the respectful and close study of their Country. For those unfamiliar with Central Australian landscape, the works are captivating depictions of the landscapes. The messages they convey command attention, reworking the words of the colonial state to speak plainly and clearly, calling for greater respect for Country, its stories and people.


The Iltja Ntjarra artists’ road signs featured in the 23rd Biennale of Sydney in 2022 and in ‘Belonging / Tjoritjarinja’ at Ngununggula in the Southern Highlands, 25 March – 21 May 2023.

Installation Views