What is distinctive about the work of Ilyente women artists

By Dr Christine Nicholls, Posted 02 February 2019

an essay by Dr Christine Nicholls

There are now up to three generations of renowned Anmatyerre/Alywarr artists working from Ilyente (Mosquito Bore) in Central Australia.

What is quite clear however are the quality of the younger women work is that they are still being well-schooled in their traditions and Dreamings by the older women, who take their traditional educative responsibilities in relation to the rising generation very seriously indeed. 

The young women artists’ work not only demonstrates their in-depth knowledge of their own Dreaming iconography, but importantly, the aesthetic quality of their work is without questionable. These works appeal both to the heart and the mind.

As ‘purely’ aesthetic objects (if indeed, Aboriginal art works can ever really be considered in such a way) each and every painting has been carefully composed, and evinces compositional harmony and balance.

Indeed, as a collectivity these works of art bring to mind the immortal lies of English poet John Keats, words which were penned in a context which could not be more different from that of the youthful Ilyente women artists:

‘beauty is truth, truth beauty’, that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know’ (Ode to a Grecian Urn).

The artists of Ilyente offer us the truth of their Dreamings, and a glimpse of the profound beauty of their own physical and cultural landscape.


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