Warlayirti Artists

Warlayirti Artists is one of Australia’s leading Indigenous art centres, whose members have a reputation for vibrant colour, bold brush strokes and distinctly individual works. Established in 1987, Warlayirti Artists represent more than 200 artists across three communities in the Kutjungka region – Kururrungku (Bililuna), Mulan (Warruyanta Artists) and Wirrimanu (Balgo). There are at least eight language groups – Kukatja, Ngardi, Jaru, Warlpiri, Walmajarri, Wangkajunga, Pintupi and Manyjiljarra – each with their own history and stories to tell. For Warlayirti Artists art is part of everyday life and cultural continuity.
Artists use traditional and new media to share and tell their stories. As well as painting, Warlayirti Artists have skills in printmaking, photography, silk dying and artefact making. Artists exhibit widely nationally and internationally, their work held in major public and private collections.

Warlayirti Artists has some of the best purpose-built facilities in remote Australia. The Art Centre is a dynamic place, functioning as a studio space for artists, as well as housing a large gallery for the display and sale of artworks. The Art Centre is also home to a cultural Keeping Place and archive of national significance.

About the importance of the Art Centre to the community

Warlayirti Artists accommodates a community of artists diverse in age, culture and life experience – some brought up in the traditional bush manner, others on the Mission and in the modern-day community.

The Art Centre is essential for social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of artists, intergenerational transfer of knowledge and the safeguarding of sacred cultural knowledge into the future. The Art Centre also acts as a healing space, a safe place for people to practice art therapy and mindfulness. Art Centre’s are essential for the ongoing strength of the community. The art centre is one of the few cultural economies in community, people earn money through art sales or through arts worker employment.

Warlayirti Artists is a vital economy for community.

 About the country and its heritage

Warlayirti Artists is located in the community of Wirrimanu (Balgo) in the southeast Kimberley, on the edge of the Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts in the Kutjungka region of northern Western Australia. Wirrimanu is the ceremonial hub for several Indigenous clans and is a site for the Luurnpa Tjukurrpa (Kingfisher Dreaming).
A former Mission Station, few people are living on their ancestral Country, the Old People came to Balgo from deep into the Great Sandy, Gibson and Tanami deserts. The Luurnpa songline is the Tjukurrpa (creation stories/lore) that connects the Kutjungka peoples.

Special Programs

Warlayirti Artists have a strong focus on Connection to Country. As Balgo mob are not living on their ancestral lands, it is essential for people to return to Country to keep cultural connections alive and ensure the intergenerational transfer of knowledge.

Warlayirti Artists embark on annual trips back to Country, traversing many deserts, rolling sand dunes, and when we can, a helicopter takes us to more challenging places to access.

Connection to Country ensures the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of artists of all generations and the future success of the art centre.

Warlayirti Artists is known for its bright acrylic works on canvas and linen, however artists have also been developing their skills in the areas of printmaking, photography and other medium.