Art Community Wangkatjungka
Wangkatjungka is a remote community situated 120km south-east of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It is located on an excision of Christmas Creek Station, and is a settlement of predominately Wangkatjungka speaking people.
Many of the older people in the Community grew up in their ancestral lands in the Great Sandy Desert.
Beginning in 1906 the Canning Stock Route was forged through the heart of their country, and this had a major impact on their lives. By the 1920’s and 1930’s many people moved towards the cattle station country further north, and the last wave of migrations out of the desert happened by the early 1950’s. Wangkatjungka people moved to Bililuna, Balgo, Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. Many older people came as children with their families, and subsequently began work on the cattle stations in the area.
Christmas Creek Station was historicsally a gathering place for law ceremony and cultural meetings over the wet season. After 1971 and the introduction of equal wages for aboriginal station workers, many people were displaced from the nearby cattle stations. Wangkatjungka community was built originally on the site of the present school, but moved to its current location only half a kilometer away when dwellings, a shop and clinic were constructed there in the late 1970’s.
In 1994 the Karrayili Adult Education Centre was established at Wangkatjungka. A large group of adults attended there between 1994-1998 to study numeracy and literacy. The Centre also provided community members with art materials and some guidance with their use. A number of senior people became very interested in painting as a means of recording stories and culture.
From this activity has emerged a distinctive group of painters, with stylistic links to Fitzroy Crossing and Balgo, as well as to other Wangkatjungka-speaking Kimberley artists who worked in ochre pigment, including Rover Thomas and Billy Thomas. It has been over the last 5 years that Wangkatjungka artists have established a solid exhibition profile and a growing reputation for their distinctive work.