Art, Culture, Country

Partnering with remote Indigenous Art Centres to deliver a landmark digital project that empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to create and share unique arts and cultural experiences with the world.


Art, Culture, Country

Partnering with remote Indigenous Art Centres to deliver a landmark digital project that empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to create and share unique arts and cultural experiences with the world.

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Martumili Artists was established by Martu people living in the communities of Parnpajinya (Newman), Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu, Kunawarritji, Irrungadji and Warralong, and it draws on strong influences of aboriginal art history. The artists and their families are the traditional custodians of vast stretches of the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts as well as the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) area. Most Martu people maintain an entirely independent, nomadic desert lifestyle until the 1950s and 1960s when they walked into settlements in response to a long and severe drought. Today, Martu people live in their own communities and regularly visit regional centres such as Newman and Port Hedland.

Newman Dr, Newman WA 6753

Featured Artists

Born: c.1939

Region: Kunawarritji

Bugai is a Kartujarra woman and a senior custodian of the lands surrounding Kunawarritji (Canning Stock Route Well 33). She was born in the 1940s at Pukayiyirna, on present day Balfour Downs Station, though her parents soon travelled northward with her through Jigalong and Nullagine toward Kunawarritji. She grew up, walked and hunted with her parents, younger sister, and extended family, primarily travelling around the eastern side of the Karlamily (Rudall River) region and along the midsection of the Canning Stock Route. In 1963 Bugai’s family decided to move to Jigalong Mission. From Jigalong Bugai moved to Aboriginal communities in Strelley, Punmu, and Parnngurr before relocating to Kunawarritji Aboriginal community in more recent years, where she continues to live today. There she was taught to paint by renowned artists Nora Nungabar (Nyangapa) (dec.) and Nora Wompi (dec.). The three women painted together as often as possible. Today Bugai is considered one of most established Martumili Artists, and is known as a master of colour, gesture and subtlety. Her self reflective works are layered with distinctively delicate brushmarks, with subtle colour changes representing landmarks, water sources, and desert flora. Bugai has been a regular finalist at the NATSIAAs, and her work has been acquired by several major institutions in Australia.

Born: 1994

Region: Parnngurr, Kaalpa (Kalypa, Canning Stock Route Well 23)

Corban was born in Newman hospital. He is one of seven children. He grew up in Newman, and went to Newman Primary School and Newman Senior High School. As a young boy, Corban’s Nanna and Pop used to take him out hunting for bush tucker. They would go out to the swamp area between Newman and Kumarina and tell funny stories. Corban works teaching Cultural Awareness with KJ (Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa, ranger organisation), and helping the YMCA with youth programs. He works as an Arts Worker and an Artist at Martumili and likes to paint about his Country, where his grandfather walked around and collected food, and visited the same rockholes that Corban visits today. This year, Corban has been selected as a finalist in the 2023 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

Born: 1986

Region: Newman, Jigalong

Sylvia Wilson is from Newman [and] Jigalong, spending alot of time in Perth. Sylvia recently moved back to Newman where she has been painting and exploring photography. Sylvia is an emerging curator and is currently working in the Martumili Gallery.

Born: c. 1949

Region: Parnngurr, Pitu

Ngamaru Bidu was born around Karanyal and Martilirri (Canning Stock Route Well 22) on the parna (ground). She is the eldest of five siblings. As a child, Ngamaru walked around with her family, living a pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) lifestyle. In 1963 Ngamaru saw a whitefella for the first time, near Wiirnukurrujunu rockhole – surveyor Len Beadell grading a road across the desert as part of a military weapons testing program. Shortly after this meeting Ngamaru, along with the other 28 Martu she had been travelling with, was tracked and pursued up by the Native Welfare Department. The group was eventually persuaded to move to Jigalong mission to join their relatives that had already moved in from the desert. Ngamaru has painted with Martumili since its inception in 2006. Ngamaru is known for the beautifully complex compositional structures and intricate patterning in her work, through which she very often explores the practice of fire burning in her Country and its related Martu cyclical seasonal changes. Ngamaru’s work has been exhibited in galleries internationally and throughout Australia, and acquired by the National Museum of Australia.

Born: 1975

Region: Punmu

Christine was born in Punmu Aboriginal community and has lived there for most of her life. Her parents Debra Thomas and Bert Lane were formative members of the community, helping build the first school and houses during the Return to Country movement of the 1980’s. More recently Christine has begun to move between her homes in Punmu and Newman.

As a mute artist, painting is an important means of communication for Christine. She began painting and making baskets from a young age, encouraged by her mother to learn about her Country in this way. She paints her family’s ngurra (home Country, camp), kakarra (east) of Punmu and around the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) region.

Born: 1973

Region: Punmu

I have been in Punmu for twenty years. All of my family have been painting but I am the first one to come to Martumili. When I’m painting I am going to paint Jarri jurri (Kunawarritji) stories.

Born: c. 1940

Region: Punmu, Kunawarratji & Karlamilyi

Mayiwalku (Maywokka) May Chapman is the eldest sister of fellow Martumili Artists Nancy Nyanjilpayi (Ngarnjapayi) Chapman, Mulyatingki Marney and Marjorie Yates (dec.). Her mother was Warnman and her father was Manyjilyjarra. Mayiwalku was born to the East, in Yirnangarri, “where the two footprints lie”. Her family’s Country extends across the Punmu, Kunawarritji (Canning Stock Route Well 33) and Karlamilyi (Rudall River) regions. Following the death of both their parents, Mayiwalku and her sisters travelled alone between Punmu and Kunawarritji, occasionally meeting with other family groups. Following the construction of the Canning Stock Route in 1910, the family increasingly came into contact with Europeans and Martu working as cattle drovers along the route. Gradually men from Mayiwalku’s family began to work seasonally at stations around Jigalong, but as a family group they remained living in the desert long after most Martu had moved to Jigalong Mission. Finally, in 1966, following a prolonged and severe drought, Mayiwalku and her sisters made the decision to walk to Balfour Downs, where they were collected by Jigalong Mission staff. Mayiwalku lived for many years at Jigalong Mission before eventually relocating with her five children to Warralong, a community south east of Port Hedland. She continues to live in Warralong today with her daughter and equally renowned artist, Doreen Chapman. Mayiwalku was one of Martumili’s pioneering artists, and is highly regarded for her technically sophisticated works. Her paintings depict her ngurra (home Country, camp); the Country she walked as a young woman, its animals, plants, waterholes and associated Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narratives. Mayiwalku’s work has been exhibited widely across Australia and internationally, and acquired by the National Museum of Australia.

Born: 1985

Region: Parnngurr, Jartuti

Cyril’s mother’s and Father’s country is Jartuti. He is the grandson of senior Martumili Artists Bugai Whyoulter and Pinyirr (dec.). Cyril grew up in Parnngurr and Punmu communities. He now lives with his wife and children between Perth and Newman. Cyril first developed an interest in art making when he began colouring in pencil with his grandfather Larry Patterson. An avid experimentalist and prolific painter, he has since mastered many painting techniques and developed his own signature style in which the influence of his grandmother Bugai is evident. Cyril is respected as a learned cultural leader, and is a strong proponent of the importance of intergenerational knowledge transfer.

Born: c.1944

Region: Parnngurr, Kulyakartu

Muuki was born at Wayinkurangu, a soak located within the Percival Lakes region of the Great Sandy Desert. He is the eldest brother of fellow Martumili Artists Wokka Taylor (dec.) and Ngalangka Nola Taylor. In his youth Muuki’s family travelled hundreds of kilometres on foot, from the northern boundary of the Martu homelands through to Parrngurr, at the southern end of the Karlamily (Rudall River) region. They continued to live a pujiman (traditional, desert dweliing) lifestyle until being collected from Balfour Downs Station and taken to Jigalong Mission in the 1960s. They were one of the last Martu families to leave the desert. Muuki is a highly respected cultural leader, and is often called upon as an authority by other artists. In addition to painting with Martumili Artists, Muuki works as a senior cultural advisor for local Martu ranger group, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa, where he provides invaluable advice and guidance. Muuki paints his ngurra (home Country, camp) in the north of Martu Country, with a particular focus on Kulyakartu; flat, grass Country close to the Percival Lakes. His works are encyclopaedic, detailing all aspects of Country from vanished roads to living water sources. Muuki’s work has been exhibited widely across Australia and internationally, and acquired by the National Museum of Australia.

A Project by Agency

UPLANDS is an immersive digital project that has been designed to celebrate Indigenous Art Centres and share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic and cultural practices with the world.

This large scale immersive digital mapping project features over twenty remote Indigenous Art Centres, and interviews with over 150 Indigenous artists and arts workers from across the country.

UPLANDS is a project by Agency and has been funded by the Australian Government through the Restart to Invest, Sustain and Expand (RISE) program and the Indigenous Visual Art Industry Support (IVAIS) program.




Principal Partner

Government Partners

Project Partners

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Sovereign Custodians of the land on which we live and work. We extend our respects to their Ancestors and all First Nations peoples and Elders past, present, and future.