Respond to works of art in a meaningful and culturally appropriate way

This education resource highlights ten artists who feature in Tarnanthi 2020:Open Hands. It can be used as a starting point in the classroom for students to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures or as a companion to your Gallery visit.

Open Hands pays tribute to the work of senior artists who pass on vital cultural knowledge to younger generations as the future leaders of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Through the act of making, they channel deep connections to Country and culture as they relate knowledge and expertise, stories and experiences. Through a variety of media – including painting, works on paper, photography, moving image, sound installation, weaving, ceramics and sculpture – Open Hands honours the ongoing and often unseen work of women in communities to maintain culture.

The making and responding suggestions of this resource are linked to the key themes within each artist’s work and provide ideas that relate to the world of your students. Through this, students are invited to explore and compare cultural knowledge, beliefs and practices and develop multiple perspectives.

On a map of Australia, locate where each of the artists featured in Tarnanthi 2020: Open Hands is from. You might begin with the artists highlighted in this resource: Sonja Carmichael and Elisa Jane Carmichael, Naomi Hobson, Trudy Inkamala, Helen Ganalmirriwuy Garrawurra and Betty Muffler.

Consider the environment, including the climate, where each of these artists lives and makes their works. What connection can you see between where they live and what they make?

Learn more about Tarnanthi 2020: Open Hands

Betty Muffler, Pitjantjatjara people, South Australia, born near Watarru, Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, South Australia 1944, Ngangkaṟi Ngura (Healing Country), 2020, Indulkana, Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, South Australia, pigmented ink on paper, 122.0 x 152.0 cm; Courtesy the artist and Iwantja Arts, © Betty Muffler/Iwantja Arts, photo: Grant Hancock.

Betty Muffler

A renowned ngangkari (traditional healer) who depicts healing sites

Naomi Hobson, Southern Kaantju/Umpila people, Queensland, born 1978, Coen, Queensland, Road Play "She told Mum she was taking me for a ride down the road but she not." Laine., from the series Adolescent Wonderland, 2019, Coen, Queensland, digital print on paper; Courtesy the artist and Redot Fine Art Gallery

Naomi Hobson

Inspired by her direct environment and ongoing connection to Country

Sonja Carmichael, Ngugi/Quandamooka people, southeast Queensland, born Brisbane 1958, Elisa Jane Carmichael, Ngugi/Quandamooka people, southeast Queensland, born Brisbane 1987, Balgagu gara (come celebrate), 2020, Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), Queensland, cyanotype on cotton, 278.0 x 274.0 cm; Courtesy the artists and Onespace Gallery, © Elisa Jane and Sonja Carmichael/Onespace Gallery, photo: Grant Hancock.

Sonja Carmichael and Elisa Jane Carmichael

Inspired by Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) to explore contemporary materials and techniques

Mandy Batjula Gaykamungu, Gupapuyŋu-Gaykamungu people, Northern Territory, born 1980, Gove, Northern Territory, Djirri-didi miṉḏirr (Garrawurra conical basket), Bidiyunawuy miṉḏirr (painted conical basket) and Djirri-didi miṉḏirr (Garrawurra conical basket), 2020, Yurrwi (Milingimbi), Northern Territory, pandanus, earth pigments, 28.5 x 12.5 cm (diam), 25.0 x 13.0 cm (diam), 16.0 x 21.0 cm (diam.); © Mandy Batjula Gaykamungu/Milingimbi Art and Culture, photo: Grant Hancock.


Fine attention to detail, precise technique and striking use of miny'tji (colour and pattern)

installation view: Tarnanthi 2020: Open Hands featuring Karrh (Spider) and Ngalbenbe (sun story) by Lena Yarinkura, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Lena Yarinkura/Maningrida Arts and Culture/Copyright Agency; photo: Saul Steed.

Lena Yarinkura

Fibre sculptures created by adapting techniques learnt from her mother