Cyril was also the instigator of a similar intergenerational camp at the significant Martu site of Wantili, a soak and claypan near Well 25 on the Canning Stock Route. “It’s important, that place,” he explains, “out a long way from Newman. We drove out to Pungurr one night and camped out, and then going to Wantili with the elderly people. Old ladies. Jakayu (Biljabu) and Kumpaya (Girgaba), them two aunties told me a story about dreamtime and how important Wantili was. People from all over the place could come there for the initiation ceremony.”
The site proved the catalyst for a major series of collaborative works with his grandmother. “Bugai always tells about Wantili because she grew up around Wantili. She saw whitefellas there for the first time, Canning mob when they were travelling up and down the stock route with the bullock. She was a young girl… They were travelling making the road, Canning and his drovers. They were running away from those whitefellas, watching them from a long distance.”
The resulting solo and collaborative works showed at Paul Johnstone Gallery last August, and the pair additionally had a work in the 2018 NATSIAA. Paul Johnstone notes the distinctive energy of the collaborative works produced by the pair on Country; a sense of immediacy he compares to the en plein air tradition. While noting the project’s commercial success, Paul also points out its peculiarities: collaboration between two Aboriginal artists of such different age, artistic experience, and opposite gender is not common, and reflects how such cultural delineations are less strict for Martu than in different Aboriginal nationalities. He also notes the integral support of Martumili Artists for such innovative and potentially fraught projects.
After a watershed year in 2018, Cyril now intends to “…learn more. I’m slowly learning about myself, who I am as an Aboriginal Indigenous man and an artist. Not many men that are artists at Martumili,” he notes – although he will also be spearheading a men’s camp later this year to help inspire other young Martu men to paint.
Cyril’s recent works are available directly from Martumili Artists in Newman, WA, and Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin, NT.