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Located in the semi-desert area to the south of the Gibson Desert and the north of the Great Victoria Desert lies the Brown and Warburton Ranges . Nestled at the base of the Warburton range is the town ship of the same name, it is the largest “metropolis” in the Ngaanyatjarra (pronounced NANG-AN-JIRRA) lands. 558 km west of Yulara (Uluru) this place has some serious remote credentials. It is this remoteness and the apparent lack of resources that has also helped to preserve the cultural and ecological qualities of the place. Warburton has a surprising and inspiring collection of art and architecture.
Is it architecture and the construction of space which creates a successful meeting space or is it something more intangible?
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• Traditional Owners = Ngaanyatjarra People
• Encompasses Gibson Desert, Great Sandy, Desert, Great Victoria Desert, and Central, Ranges Biogeographic regions
• Mean annual temps; H-29.8 L-14.8
• Annual rainfall; 247mm
• Population 585
• Elevation 459m
• The Warburton Collection is the largest collection of Indigenous art that is held by Aboriginal people themselves in Australia and the world
• The Ngaanyatjarra shire lands at 159,948 km2 are comparable to England in size
• Former industries were Sandalwood Harvesting & Dingo Scalp collecting
Note the dirt mist on the glass. The soil is so fine that it sticks to the inside of the glass. When it rains on this soil it clogs together and stops any moving part. Owen still had some in his handlebar stem from near Windorah on the west coast.
Bobbie had her birthday on the road so we made do with a campfire breakfast and bouquet of bush flowers that were abundant at that time of year.
Small Green Mangoes would be a better description, we were in the off season so they tasted like bad peas. However there is the most amazing amount of kernels tightly packed under the outer skin
Rosy Dock is a fleshy-leafed annual, that is often seen after good winter rains, spread throughout the outback.
It is thought that the plant was introduced into Australia with camels, either as feed or accidentally as seed in saddles or packing. The plant is a native to northern Africa and western Asia, but is now classified as a weed in all mainland states of Australia.
We were lucky enough in Warburton to meet a young crew who were working in the town. They invited us over for dinner a few nights and shared much of their local knowledge. Here is a Polaroid of us they took in their kitchen making our road specialty “mug cakes”
Petrol pumps are not self service in Laverton. It feels like reading fences back in Alice Springs again.
From Owen’s sketchbook, mapping how the art room is used.
What a design! A 44 gallon drum is fitted with a heavy duty, metal lid attached to a standard galvanised fence. This then stops animals tipping over the bin to get at food, including horses and camels. Additionally if anyone sets the bin on fire, no problemo, it’s all metal. Once the fire dies down it’s good to go.
This brilliant art centre ad-on was designed by the arts Director, it gives you shelter from the sun or rain and extends the usable space of the deck by canter-levering a seat off the edge
Gary is the energetic and enigmatic director of Warburton arts, he draws you in with graphic stories of the paintings in the collection. Sublime, absurd and carrying over 30 years of understanding Gary’s knowledge and delivery is immersive and unforgettable.
CLICK ON THE IMAGE to listen to a yarn with Gary
At the Warburton Arts centre they don’t just do painting but a whole range of mediums. We were invited to make some glass bowls using a slump glass method. This technique allows people to not only use material to create patterns in the glass but draw in the sand of the kiln. This brings Indigenous art back to it’s fundamental roots, messages drawn in soil. Less mobile members of the community can still draw in this way expanding their ability to continue making art.
From what we saw it was one of the most used buildings in the town. Plug’n’play speakers allowed autonomy of use in the space. You would hear blasting eclectic 90’s music late into the night. Brilliant!
We were lucky enough to be lent a house for a few days which meant we could draw this monstrous exhibition on some recycled shopping bags
Pinned up in the art centre we took it around to a few key locals to talk them through it and get their thoughts. Gary even made some adjustments.
It is amazing how quickly you can connect with people. Mon and Dani even drove out to see us off.
We pulled over to snack with Dani and Mon and their dog Bluey who loved the roadside chicken stop.
As we were standing here refilling our bottles, a car pulled up had a chat and gave us a couple of beers! Bloody delicious but made our riding a bit harder after that.