Image – Judith Anya Samson (in car) en route to Punmu for the 2019 Martumili Artist meeting that Yaama Ganu was privileged to attend. * Follow Martumili Artist looking for a phone signal on roof of troopie.
Yaama Ganu is excited to exhibit Martumili Artist Judith ‘Anya’ Samson’s first solo exhibition – Anya: Coming Up Strong – the Journey of Judith Anya Samson. Also featuring works by her grandmother and mentor Artist Dadda Samson, to show the profound influence the acclaimed Artist had on her granddaughter’s practice.
Judith Anya Samson
“I was born in Hedland, Port Hedland seaside, but I moved to Jigalong community with my nanna [Dadda Samson] and my pop. Then we moved to desert, to Puntawarri, Well 17. I was still a young girl, still crawling in the desert. It was nice there. Some other families lived there with us. We had some farm, some vegetables. We went schooling in Puntawarri at the school, learning ‘two way’ [refers to teaching in both Martu Wangka and English, with a focus on local cultural and ecological knowledge]. We used to go and get some parnajalpa (goanna) and turkey. We had a Toyota truck. We been go hunting at the desert. Some people there still, but they gotta build some new houses and then then we going back to [live in] Puntawarri. My nanna’s sister had a house here in Newman, so we used to come and visit. I did high school here in Newman. Now I move between Jigalong and Newman. My nanna is living in Jigalong, so I still go visit here. She’s got a green house. My sister is there looking after her. I started to do painting here at Martumili when I was a young girl. I been help my nanna painting, we were painting Puntawarri one. My nanna was teach me to paint. I work with Martumili now. I help sell the painting, and photograph and catalogue them. I went to America, Fremantle, the Gold Coast, Sydney, and Alice Springs with Martumili. I also like playing softball. We play for Jigalong, Western Desert. I work for KJ (Karninyanpa Jukurrpa ranger group) mob in Jigalong too. I like to dance and listen to music.” Anya is the granddaughter of Dadda Samson and Yanjimi (Peter) Rowlands, both senior Martu artists. She was born in Port Hedland and has lived most of her life in Jigalong. Any was raised by her grandparents Dadda and Yanjimi, as her parents passed away when she was very youn. Dadda has taught Anya to paint; she has passed stories onto Anya for painting. Anya frequently travels with Dadda to her country around Jigalong, Puntawarri and the Rabbit Proof Fence, the subject of many of her paintings. Anya has exhibited in most Martumili Artists’ exhibitions in recent years. Her work has been acquired by the Art Gallery of Queensland (GOMA) and the National Museum of Australia. In 2011, Anya travelled to the United States of America with other Martu artists for the exhibition “Waru” at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford University.
Dadda is a Kartujarra woman and a senior custodian of the lands surrounding Jigalong. She was born around 1933 at a windmill near Old Jigalong, a ration depot that was situated on the Rabbit Proof Fence preceding the establishment of Jigalong Mission. Before Dadda was born, her parents and brothers lived in the Country around Jilukurru (Killagurra Spring, Canning Stock Route Well 17). She walked around this Country with her mother, father and three brothers, visiting sites including Kumpu, Mungkulu, Pinpi (Durba Springs), Pulyapulya (Sunday Well), and Puntawarri. When Dadda was very young her father first heard that there were rations at Jigalong and took his family there for flour, tea and sugar. In the late 1930’s, when droving had intensified along the Canning Stock Route, Dadda’s family left the desert and walked to Jigalong Mission. There they met up with the Samson, Kelly, Jeffries, Atkins, Sammy and Kadibil families who are also all Kartujarra people. Dadda went to school at the mission for a short time and was taught by Mrs Battye, Jigalong’s first school teacher. Later, she worked on stations including Sylvania Station with her first husband, a camel handler, and then with her second husband, an excellent horseman, rancher, and cattle drover; both of whom she has outlived. Dadda continues to live at Jigalong today, with her children and many grandchildren, as a highly respected senior of the community. Dadda is one of the pioneering painters at Martumili Artists. As she set about her earliest works, Dadda immersed herself in the songs that describe the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) of the Country that she authoritatively represents. Her tireless exploration of colour and form, however, reflects her increasing engagement with the qualities of paint and canvas themselves. Dadda’s technique swings between lusciously applying brightly coloured paint to the canvas and using translucent washes to produce watercolourlike qualities. She works delicately across the surfaces of linens and canvasses, revealing the textures of various substrates. Subtle, interlaced roundels remain a consistent feature throughout her explorations of light, form and space. Many of her paintings have a hovering, vibrating quality that is thoroughly grounded in Country, Jukurrpa and history, even while it challenges stereotypes of ‘traditonal’ desert paintings. Dadda has exhibited widely across Australia and internationally, and her work has been acquired by several major institutions in Australia including The National Museum of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria