Ikuntji, or Haasts Bluff as it is known, is home to mainly Luritja and Pintupi people of the central western desert. It lies 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs and is nestled within the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges. To the north is Ulampawarru and Anyali (Mt Edward and Mt William), and to the south is the stunning Mereenie Bluff. For a map of the region.
Mereenie Bluff at sunset, near Ikuntji
The mountains change colour with the light of the day moving from the magenta and ultramarine subdue into pastel hues with dramatic highlights that may only last a few seconds. To the west there are soft red sand hills and stands of desert oak – known locally as ‘the jungle’.
Stories of long journeys of the Luritja people who travelled from the west during the hard times of the 1930s moving from rockhole to rockhole and cave to mountain are still told today in the paintings of the senior law women at Ikuntji Art Centre.
The Ikuntji Women’s Centre at Haasts Bluff was opened in 1992 under the influence of then community president Ester Jugadai. Marina Strocchi, a then Melbourne based artist, was invited to run the centre and the women began producing acrylic painting on linen and handmade paper that quickly earned the centre an impressive international reputation. Today about 15 key artists exhibit around Australia and overseas where their work is held in public galleries and private collections.
Bush trips organised by the centre are important to the artists and their work. These trips are a source of inspiration for their paintings as well as an opportunity for artists to get back to their country, go hunting and affirm traditional links with the land.
Bush trip to Alice Namitjinpa’s country – at rockhole
Ikuntji paintings are recognisable through their bold colour and their inclusion of traditional motifs alongside figurative and naturalistic imagery.The experimentation and innovation for which the painting from Ikuntji is known, has been received enthusiastically by collectors and galleries. The combination of their rich cultural heritage – particularly Tjukurrpa stories – which they draw upon for inspiration and their highly developed sense of artistic freedom has produced work that stands strongly in the context of international contemporary painting.
Key painters to have emerged from Ikuntji are:
Daisy Napaltjarri Jugadai
Eunice Napanangka Jack
Long Tom Tjapanangka