The National Museum of Australia (NMA) in Canberra is hosting a series of workshops with Martumili Artists as part of the Museum's pioneering Songlines: Tracking Seven Sisters project. 

During a period as artists-in-residence at the NMA, a number of Indigenous artists have been providing visitors with a glimpse into their world, art styles and techniques.

Martumili Artists was established in 2006 as an artist-run art centre to establish art making and display spaces and studios in seven Indigenous communities. This artist-led initiative has enabled communities to create meaningful works of art including baskets and paintings while living on country.

Operated from a central office in Newman in the Pilbara area of Western Australia,  Martumili Artists was established by traditional owners and their families from Karlamilyi (Rudall River) and the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and the Gibson Desert areas of Western Australia.

Judith Samson, 29, said she had been an art worker with Martumili for the past five years, cataloguing works and selling paintings, among other duties.

She was also a painter, having taking up the art form with her grandmother when she was a young girl.

"I paint my country in Jigalong and Puntawarrie," she said.

She was last in Canberra for the landmark Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route exhibition at the NMA several years ago. This exhibition features some of Samson's work and is currently touring Japan.

Nola Taylor, 61, said she was a weaver, painstakingly making baskets out of grass. "It can take a couple of months if you're making a big basket," she said. She also made wall hangings and was an an oil painter. She had been a regular visitor to Canberra since the 1980s with her art.

Ruth Leigh, a field officer with Martumili Artists, said the organisation had a core group of about 140 artists and since its establishment had worked with around 1000 artists and makers, enabling them to create their art on country and in the studios in Newman and sell it.

Craft demonstrations (free with Songlines admission) at the NMA will be held on Friday from 10.30am to noon and 1.30pm to 3pm. Weaving workshops will be held on Saturday at 10.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 3.30pm, cost $65/$55. More information and bookings:

A groundbreaking project, Songlines: Tracking Seven Sisters features Domelab technology pioneered by UNSW with ten partner universities and cultural institutions to explore ancient Indigenous songlines. Led by Indigenous communities, DomeLab offers an immersive multimedia experience which aims to tell an Indigenous founding narrative through Indigenous ways of passing on knowledge. 

Indigenous artists-in-residence workshops and demonstrations

Mullingarri Meddhung: Alive and as one

See demonstrations – free with exhibition entry on select dates – or book into a workshop with artists from centres represented in the Songlines exhibition.

23–25 November 2017
Artists from Maruku Arts demonstrate the practice of traditional punu (woodcarving).
More details and workshop bookings

7–9 December 2017
Warakurna Artists create a large-scale canvas that represents the vibrant colours of the land and reflects the collaborating artists individual styles.
More details