Utopia, Northern Territory, Australia born 1949
Place made: Utopia, Central Desert, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: textiles, batik on silk
Utopia Station is situated 240km north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. In 1978, an adult education program of driving, sewing and batik was introduced. Jenny Green and Julia Murray taught the batik classes, which proved to be very popular, and led to an exhibition in Alice Springs in 1980. A number of visiting artists including Inga Hunter and Linda Jackson have introduced other techniques such as screen-printing. About 80 women contribute, usually working in family groups from the 14 outstations. The batiks are spread between cardboard boxes, or stretched over their legs, the wax being heated in metal pots on open fires, situated in the centre of the group. Most of the women use the tjanting wax pen, which contributes to their fluid and spontaneous designs. Inspiration comes from the surrounding country with the use of flowers, plants and animals. Some artists prefer the stylised representations of women preparing for ceremonies and patterns made on the ground from dancing.
(See Brody A, 1990, Utopia: A Picture Story, Heytesbury Holdings Ltd, Perth)
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra