(Australia circa 1932 – 2003)
32.9 x 49.1 cm platemark; 49.6 x 66.8 cm sheet
Susie Bootja Bootja, who has recently passed away, was best known as a painter working for Warlayirti Artists at Wirrimanu (Balgo). In recent years she produced prints in association with Northern Editions print workshop at the Northern Territory University. In this print the strikingly captivating Balgo colour-fields are translated into the print medium.
Documentation from Warlayirti Artists states that this etching depicts Susie Bootja Bootja's country located west of Balgo in the Great Sandy Desert along the top of the Canning Stock Route. This country is named Kaningarra and is where Susie hunted and lived as a young woman with her family. Depicted here is an abundance of tjunda or bush onion which is found on the grassy plains between the hills of the area.
This print exemplifies the expressive Balgo style and daring use of colour that has earned this remote art community an international reputation. Although the Balgo community was some ten years behind the Papunya artists in starting up their art centre, they have quickly established themselves as a formidable presence in Australian art. While their works relate to their fellow Western Desert artists in Kintore and Kiwirrkura, Balgo artists paint with less restraint, demonstrating an immediacy and spontaneity. The preferred palette of rich reds, oranges and yellows evokes the dramatic landscape around Balgo.
Prints from Balgo are part of the move into new media for this community. The paintings style of Balgo artists translates very successfully to this medium, allowing as it does for the simulation of great depth and intense colour. Furthermore, these works captures the essence of each artist's characteristic style.
Printmaking is an increasing area of art practice for remote area communities and is particularly accessible to older, more senior artists. They allow a greater freedom of expression for less mobile artists and are less strenuous. As a result, these prints often carry the traditional authority of a community and their creation plays a valuable role in passing on cultural information to younger generations of artists.
© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2003
Anne Ryan, Contemporary Australian prints from the collection, Sydney, 2004. cat.no. 36
Balgo prints: a recent survey, Northern Territory University Art Gallery, Darwin, 16 Aug 2003–29 Aug 2003
Contemporary Australian prints from the collection (2004), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 03 Apr 2004–06 Jun 2004