MANGKAJA ARTS Resource Agency is a vibrant Aboriginal owned Art centre representing the five language groups of the Fitzroy Valley in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia. The Art Centre began as an arm of Karrayili Adult Education Centre, first established in 1981 for local people who wanted to learn the English language. The initiative, led by the local men, provided a place where people could study and paint their personal stories, bush trips and histories. The artists began to sell their work from a building constructed threateningly close to the highway, on the main thoroughfare past the town.
Artists worked with very few resources and travellers bargained directly with the producers of the works. The building was a modest concrete and tin structure with no windows, built with the assistance of a small capital grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency Aboriginal Agency was incorporated as a separate organisation under the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 and given it’s name Mangkaja on 25 October 1993. Mangkaja, a Walmajarri word for the wet weather shelters erected by the Walmajarri people in the Great Sandy Desert during the wet season, was named by one of the Art Centre’s founding members Kumanjayi Skipper. The echidna in the Mangkaja Arts logo was Skipper’s totem. Today the Art Centre is located in the centre of Fitzroy Crossing and functions as a gallery, specialty store and a studio.
Artists include: Ngarralja Tommy May, Sonia Kurrara, Mervyn Street, Lynley Nargoodah, John Prince Siddon, Eva Nargoodah, Rosie Tarku King, Dorothy Forrest, Penny K-Lyons, Amy Palmer
Image: Lynley Nargoodah, Seed Collecting – Seven Seasons. Acrylic on board, 60 x 60cm. Courtesy: Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency.
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