Deep in Australia’s Red Centre, acclaimed Aboriginal artist Kathleen Buzzacott shares rare insights into family life on Traditional Arrente Homeland in the West MacDonnell Ranges in an Aboriginal Culture Experience.
“You are wearing my earrings,” was the first thing Kathleen said to me when we arrived to do her Yia Nuka (My Story). I had purchased these great earrings which had swiftly become my new faves, the day before at the Araluen Art Centre.
YIA NUKA (MY STORY)
More than just a workshop, visitors can discover Kathleen’s stories of growing up and living in Central Australia during the visit. She talks about her grandmothers, about living far from her homeland and the joys she discovered on returning.
Kathleen is a proud Pitjantjatjara and Western Arrernte woman of Scottish and English heritage. She paints in the central desert dot style, and her work shares stories from her childhood and raising her family in the Central Australian Desert.
In Kathleen’s Yia Nuka (My Story) Aboriginal Culture Experience visitors can create their own bracelet or keyring with hand-decorated bush seeds. Aboriginal women have a tradition of using these pretty seeds for jewellery.
Visitors choose their own from the selection of rich red oval seeds, painted gum nuts and others with Kathleen on hand with tips and tricks on getting the thread through the tiny holes. I made a bracelet from seeds and beads painted by Kathleen, especially for our visit.
While her visitors are gathered around the table, busily working on their creations, Kathleen talks about growing in up Queensland with her father and grandmother. She returned to Hermannsberg at the age of 10 in 1980 with her sister and brother to live with mother and stepfather.
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The studio’s walls are lined with Kathleen’s art which draws from the Central Desert Dot Painting tradition. Kathleen’s work is full of her own stories as a child growing up in this dramatic landscape and her Aboriginal heritage.
An artist of some renown, Kathleen has licensed some of her works for use on tea lights where the subtle candle glow enhances the vibrant colours. You can also enjoy her style on mugs and coasters, and all are available for sale.
Another highlight is the bush tucker infused morning tea from Rayleen Brown’s Kungas Can Cook Cafe. Rayleen is known as the Bush Tucker Queen and uses native flavours throughout her cooking. If you are lucky, there will be some of her wattle seed brownies or orange rosella syrup cake on the menu.
The studio is about 18-kilometres from Alice Springs along Larapinta Drive towards Simpsons Gap. A right turn takes you on a short dirt drive towards the Buzzacott’s Outstation and Kathleen’s studio. It is located on Arrernte Native Title Homeland and visitors here would generally require a permit, but permission has been given by the Traditional Owners for visitors.
While you are there, do check out Kathleen’s international award-winning toilets that prove that art has no boundaries.