Ivy Pareroultja is one of the leaders in a new generation of artists continuing the legacy of the renowned Hermannsburg school of watercolour painters. She is the daughter of Edwin Pareroultja, a contemporary of Albert Namatjira’s and a renowned artist in his own right. Significantly, Edwin Pareroultja’s painting Amulda Gorge, c.1947 was the first work by an Aboriginal artist purchased for the Gallery’s collection. Edwin, along with his brothers, Otto and Reuben, was known for his use of brilliant colour, graphic forms and strong patternation.
In recent years Ivy Pareroultja has mastered the skills inherited from her father to produce striking watercolours through the Ngurratjuta Iltja Ntjarra: Many Hands Art Centre in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). This art centre was established in 2003 to foster the Western Arrernte descendents of the Hermannsburg school of painters, and can be credited with a revival of their distinctive watercolour style.
Pareroultja’s works are distinguished by their luminous, high-keyed colour, stylised forms and distinctive line work, as exemplified in James Range, 2010. The format of this painting follows the established conventions for Hermannsburg works. However, Pareroultja offers a very personal account of this tradition. Here the ubiquitous lone gum tree is set against an enlivened landscape, with the trees and mountain ranges dancing in formation. The work celebrates the unique features of this desert landscape and highlights Pareroultja’s intimate attachment to this country.
In Mt Sonder Lookout, 2009 Pareroultja uses brilliant yellows to illuminate the spinifex, bushes and gum trees in the foreground, and warm purples to define the rounded hills and vegetation of the middle ground, adding clarity to the bright central Australian light. As a child Pareroultja walked from Hermannsburg to Rrutjupma (Mt Sonder) with her family to camp, and has commented, ‘It always feels like we are coming home when we come out here’. Rrutjupma is a recurring subject in Pareroultja’s work and is a site she often paints with her close companion Lenie Namatjira.
Namatjira and Pareroultja have both been involved as artists in the Big hART production of Namatjira, which premiered at Belvoir Street Theatre in 2010 to wide acclaim and continues to tour. In recent years they have also worked closely with the students of Ntaria school, teaching watercolour techniques and mentoring the students in continuing this important tradition.
Cara Pinchbeck in ’Tradition today: Indigenous art in Australia’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2014