Anangu Women Artists Celebrated in ‘Kungka Kunpu (Strong Women)’ exhibition at Geelong Gallery

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Anangu Women Artists Celebrated in ‘Kungka Kunpu (Strong Women)’ exhibition at Geelong Gallery

Ken Family Collaborative, Tjungkara Ken, Sandra Ken, Freda Brady, Maringka Tunkin, Yaritji Tingila Young and Paniny Mick, with their work Kangkura-KangkuraKu Tjukurpa - A Sister’s Story, 2017, image courtesy Ken Family Collaborative/ and Tjala Arts

This exhibition reflects the adaptive genius, energy and dynamism of Aṉangu culture and the inspiring tale of women supporting each other across generations.

Get ready to be awestruck by the powerful and inspiring works of celebrated Anangu women artists from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the upcoming exhibition, ‘Kungka Kunpu (Strong Women),’ hosted at Geelong Gallery.

This captivating showcase, a touring exhibition from the Art Gallery of South Australia’s acclaimed Tarnanthi program, is set to run from October 21, 2023, to February 25, 2024.

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Featuring major contemporary pieces from AGSA’s collection, this exhibition highlights the extraordinary artistic talent of celebrated women artists who draw from their cultural knowledge and ceremonial traditions to create groundbreaking works. It’s a celebration of women supporting each other across generations, beautifully expressed through paintings, large-scale woven sculptures, and moving image works.

“Kungka Kunpu (Strong Women) reflects the adaptive genius, energy and dynamism of Anangu culture and recognises the APY art movement as a vital source of contemporary art production in Australia today,” says AGSA Director Rhana Devenport ONZM.

“This exceptional travelling exhibition gives audiences outside of South Australia a rare opportunity to experience AGSA’s far reaching and impactful Tarnanthi program – a national showcase for the artistic excellence, creative diversity, innovation and cultural depth of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.”


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Central to the exhibition is the powerful ancestral story of Kungkarangkalpa, the tale of the Seven Sisters, who are pursued by the lascivious man Wati Nyiru across the sky and earth. This Tjukurpa (ancestral creation story) resonates across cultures and time, reflecting the strength and leadership of women looking after one another.

“Strong women, the theme of Kungka Kunpu, is a message of empowerment with a relevance that stretches far beyond the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands. It impacts women in all parts of Australia and all corners of the world. This touring exhibition represents a singular opportunity for the views and voices of Aboriginal women, sharing traditional wisdom about the importance of female strength, to be seen and heard around our nation.” – Australia’s only female Prime Minister, The Hon. Julia Gillard AC, who is now the Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London and at the Australian National University.

Kungka Kunpu features more than 60 Anangu women artists, cultural custodians of an oral tradition that epitomizes the art of storytelling. Their works explore themes such as caring for Country, mapping significant sites, and life-sustaining practices of the desert while delving into complex family relationships and obligations.

The exhibition showcases diverse materials, including large-scale sculptural installations made from tjanpi (grasses) and found objects by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers. This collective practice emphasizes the important role of tjanpi in the lives of Anangu artists, as artist Mrs. Kaika Burton explains, “We have very strong feelings towards our grasses, we love them. They have sustained our lives forever. So when people ask us about our tjanpi and we say they have Tjukurpa, we really mean it.”

As a testament to the dynamism of the next generation of storytellers, the exhibition includes new media in the form of moving image works. Among the captivating pieces is ‘Kungka Kunpu,’ a cross-generational film premiered at Tarnanthi in 2019, combining live action and animation.

Let ‘Kungka Kunpu (Strong Women)’ take you on an unforgettable journey of art, culture, and the enduring power of women’s creativity. Join the Geelong Gallery from October 21, 2023, to February 25, 2024, and experience the incredible legacy of Anangu women artists. Find out more here