Lajamanu Visual Arts Research Residency
Lajamanu, North Tanami Desert, Northern Territory, Australia.
Over 1990 and 1991 Tim Newth took on a Visual Arts Research Residency to study Warlpiri art as his professional development. He attached himself to respected Lajamanu elder Freddy Jangala Patrick [dec].
I thought I knew what it meant to be an Australian
"After first coming in contact with the remote Aboriginal community of Lajamanu In 1988 many basic concepts of who I was as an Australian artist were challenged. I thought I knew what it meant to be an Australian but after my brief exposure, I realised that I had to re-evaluate this idea.
I had been adopted into the Patrick family; Freddy Jangala Patrick and Myra Nungarrayi Herbert (Patrick), both highly respected artists, had taken me on as their son. I received a grant from the Visual Arts/Crafts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts to study various art forms in the Aboriginal community of Lajamanu, Northern Territory. This gave me time over a two-year period to live and work alongside Freddy Jangala Patrick and his family.
Jangala was a skilled craftsman and respected elder
We would be going “hunting” with the purpose of finding the right-shaped tree to craft a boomerang. In the case of the “number seven” (wilgi or goose-neck) boomerang there was a very particular relationship between the curve of the tree trunk and the root below the ground (see photo). Jangala was a skilled craftsman and respected elder. To be this he needed to have a highly refined knowledge of the land, the hardwood trees for the boomerang, or softwood for coolamons.
Relationships between land, people and culture
My time also involved preparing and being involved with ceremony, which was often highly demanding as ceremony is often held over the Christmas period when temperatures are regularly over 45 degrees Celsius. This was not only important in a practical doing way, but also in finding my place and relationship way. Country trips to visit important sites taught me of relationships between land, people and culture. I learnt of country belonging to the Patrick family but also dreaming designs connected to Lajamanu. This time gave me my grounding in Lajamanu and a stronger understanding and connection to Warlpiri culture. Myra would often introduce me as her son and follow that up by saying that she bought me up “Warlpiri way”."
Freddy Jangala Patrick and Tim Newth
Freddy Jangala Patrick (1930 - 1998)
Jangala was born west of Willowra near Mungurlarri, he came to Lajamanu as a 'single fellow’. He was a Warlpiri speaker and his country was Mungurlarri and Lult-ja (Lajamanu). An excellent carver, he was one of the first to start painting in Lajamanu. He also painted Ngapa (water), Yankirri (Emu), Yawakyi (Bush Plum), Wirlki (Boomerang), Watiya Warnu (Seed of Tree), Warna Pawu (Snake from Willowra), Dreamings for which Jampijinpa/Jangala are custodians. He often worked together with his wife, artist Myra Nungarrayi Patrick. They lived just outside the Lajamanu settlement. Freddy is the elder brother of Jerry and Paddy Patrick.
Visual Arts/Crafts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts
Dance Development Office: Sarah Calver
[Under Brown’s Mart Community Arts – Executive Officer Ken Conway]