It is this mystery and conceptual opacity that forms part of the work’s energising and humbling experience. While her paintings often depict watering holes, animals and the Seven Sisters Tjukurpa (the laws, traditions and knowledge of Country that encompass the world view of the Anagu people to which Julie belongs), these subjects only form part of her painted grand narrative. Julie draws on this material, while also distilling her familial archive and her sense of duty and obligation to Country, presenting a painted world that is deeply idiosyncratic and personal.
She emphasises that her references to, and appreciation of, the past are borne from a shared history: “The old people who share their stories in the Art Centre is how I learnt to paint my story.” These stories, as Julie puts it, are grounded in Western Desert life ways, narratives and “all the Country that I remember and the stories my family told me.”
In this way, Julie’s paintings offer powerful insight to her home in Indulkana: cutting through class, nation, gender and lived experience. We are invited to journey through and experience her richly coloured and intensely evocative Country – one pigment at a time. And within this invitation, is the gentle reminder that the significance of physical place can only be fully comprehended when first experienced within the mind.
Julie was the feature artist for the APY Art Centre Collective Art Centre Iwantja Arts at the recent Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF), which takes place every year in early August. The next DAAF runs from 5–9 August, 2020.