Yarrenyty Arltere Artists and Leonardo Ortega
Live and work in Alice Springs, Northern Territory (NT), Australia
The Worlds We Stitch Together
2017, duration 5 mins, looped
Commissioned by Transport for NSW
Throughout July 2018
We made this little film to make our sculptures come alive. We made the film by doing our sewing and thinking of stories and working together. All the stories that come into our heads when we sit and sew, well some of these, we thought, we could make come alive.
So we got our sculptures to walk just like us, picking bush tucker, putting it in their coolamon the same way that you might put your food on your dinner plate.
We told the Kungka Mamu story, too, because Trudy can tell that one. Then all those birds, well they just make us happy and keep us full of love for this place Alice Springs. It was good to go out bush to make this film, to see the sun go down and the sun come up and all the time keep sewing and making this film.
We made new friends making this film too, Leo made us laugh and we learnt new things.
Sewing and sharing our stories and making friends and making this film. Well it's good, and now the whole city of Sydney can see how clever we are. We might just be Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp Artists from Alice Springs but we keep on making our art and we keep finding new ways to show the world what we can do and who we are.
- Producer: Yarrenyty Arltere Artists
- Director, Cinematographer, Sets, Animation: Leonardo Ortega
- Original Storyline: Trudy Inkamala, Marlene Rubuntja, Dulcie Sharpe
- Cultural Advisors: Trudy Inkamala, Marlene Rubuntja, Dulcie Sharpe, Mervyn Rubuntja
- Soft sculptures, additional props: Trudy Inkamala, Marlene Rubuntja, Rosabella Ryder, Dulcie Sharpe, Dulcie Raggett, Rhonda Sharpe, Maurice Petrick, Cornelius Ebatarinja, Roxanne Petrick, Louise Robertson
- Artists performing as themselves: Marlene Rubuntja, Dulcie Raggett, Rhonda Sharpe, Rosabella Ryder, Sharee Inkamala
- Yarrenyty Arltere Artists Coordinator: Sophie Wallace
- Assistant set builders: Maurice Petrick, Cornellious Ebatarinja
- Additional set dressing and production ssistance: Parris Dewhurst, Maurice Petrick, Tyrone Wallace, J9 Stanton
- Post-production, Composite: Leonardo Ortega
- Post-production Assistants: Parris Dewhurst, Christopher Fitzpatrick
- Filmmaking and animation trainee: Maurice Petrick
The producer and director wish to thank the following for their generous contributions to this project: the artists for their beautiful soft sculptures and story; Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp community; Tangentyere Artists; Eli Peters; Loulou Gebbie. Special thanks to Trudy Inkamala for permission to film on her beautiful country and to Mervyn Rubuntja for authorising filming at Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp.
Born 1940, Arrernte, Luritja; Hamilton Downs, North West of Alice Springs, NT. Her father worked at Hamilton Downs Station in the garden growing vegetables for the youth camp. Trudy says it was a happy place to live. She remembers helping her Nanna gather the wood so they could do all the washing. She helped her Nanna cook bullock meat everyday for the station. When Trudy went to school at Ntaria (Hermannsburg) she met her husband. She lived with her husband at Jay Creek, which is also her country. As a kid, Trudy would go into this beautiful country with her family. They would pick bush tucker and her grandmother Laddy would teach her all the stories from that place. Trudy is an important and respected elder in her community. She is a role model and spokeswoman for her people. Her mother, her two sisters and herself along with 'some other strong people', set up Yipirinya School to celebrate and nurture the Aboriginal kids of Alice Springs. Since her husband passed away in 2014, Trudy has traveled everyday on the school bus to work side by side with her sister Dulcie Sharpe at the art centre. Doing art is her new joy she says, a way forward for the kids.
Born 1961, Arrernte; Alice Springs, NT. Her mother's country is Hermannsburg (Ntaria), west of Alice Springs. Marlene grew up at Amoonguna community, east of Alice Springs where she went to school. Marlene is the daughter of Wenton Rubuntja, the well known painter and activist. It was her father who fought for the rights of people to settle Town Camps in Alice Springs. In the 1970s her family, the Rubuntjas, along with the Ebatarinjas and the Lynches were the original families to settle Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp. Marlene has been here ever since and she is proud to call this place home. Marlene learnt to sew at Yirara College, Alice Springs. However she only began making soft sculptures at Yarrenyty Arltere in 2009. She says she draws inspiration for her soft sculptures from what she sees around her in her daily life at Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp: 'some things are good for people and other things make people really mad'. Marlene is interested in telling proudly the stories of her people; her art is helping her to do this. Marlene is a proud spokeswoman for the art centre and is happy to tell people how important it is in her life in helping her stay strong and healthy. Marlene has also written the script for all the soft sculpture animations made at the art centre. In 2016 Marlene officially opened Desert Mob Exhibition in Alice Springs, and in 2017 she was one of three judges for the Portrait of a Senior Territorian Art Award. Marlene is President of the Yarrenyty Arltere Housing Association.
Born 1975, Arrernte; Alice Springs, NT. Rosabella grew up at White Gate community with all her family, her grandparents, aunties and uncles. Her grandfather's country is Little Well, Ross River way. When she was 12 she moved with her family to Santa Teresa so she could go to school. At age 16 she moved back to White Gate to get married and to have her first child. Now she has six children. She proudly says she doesn't drink and she grew all her children up out bush at No 5 Community west of Alice Springs. Now she lives at Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp and is happy coming to sew and work every morning. It is a new feeling for her, she says, to be thinking about making things every day. She is proud of her children and her art.
Born 1957, Luritja, Arrernte; Jay Creek, NT. Dulcie spent many years growing up at Hamilton Downs Station. Her mother was from Papunya and she is a Luritja speaker. Dulcie went to school at Jay Creek and her happiest memories are playing every day after school in the bush and swimming when there was water. It was Dulcie's grandmother who taught her everything about culture: how to find honey ants, bush tucker, dancing and language. Dulcie has been coming to the Yarrenyty Arltere Learning Centre since year 2000, when she helped set it up as a place for her community to get well again from the chronic social issues it was facing, such as intergenerational substance abuse. Dulcie says she loves sewing. She sews after work on the weekend and even in hospital. Dulcie also makes limited edition etchings. She is a respected elder in the community and a positive role model for other artists.
Born 1977, Luritja; Alice Springs, NT. Rhonda lived at Trucking Yards Town Camp and went to Yipirinya School. She discovered an interest and passion for making soft sculptures and print making when she followed her aunty into the art room one day. Rhonda says that her work is inspired by what she experiences in her daily life, by watching the other artists in the art room and by remembering stories from when she was young. Rhonda has found that the art room gives her a place to be safe and to make a better future for herself. Rhonda says that sewing makes her feel happy and that she is proud of the work she creates. As Rhonda's confidence as an artist grows so too does her subject matter. From her beautiful delicately stitched birds to her thoughtful whimsical spirit figures, embellished not only with wool and cotton, but also with feathers, metal and beads, Rhonda's sculptures tell stories that weave together the here and now, the past and the ever hopeful future.
Born 1973, Eastern Arrernte, Alyawerr; Alice Springs, NT. Maurice grew up at Mt. Swan Station, on the Plenty Highway, at his his father's country. His mother's country is Santa Teresa, east of Alice Springs. Maurice went to school sometimes at Utopia and sometimes at Harts Range. Maurice lived at Number 5 Community, near the Plenty River until he moved with his wife and children to Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp. Maurice works as an art worker at the Yarrenyty Arltere Art Centre and is employed through the Indigenous Language And Arts Project. Maurice enjoys filmmaking, print making, gardening, cooking and looking after the art centre so that everyone has a good place to work and enjoy.
Born 1982, Arrernte; Alice Springs, NT. Cornelius' father's country is Ntaria (Hermannsburg) west of Alice Springs. Cornelius spent most of his childhood in Santa Teresa and at Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp. In Santa Teresa, he learnt to ride horses with his auntie's partner. Later he moved to Number 5 Community on the Plenty Highway and then back to Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp with his wife and children to be near his family. In 2014 he started working at the Art Centre as an art worker. Cornelius loves working in the garden, and also enjoys photography and print making and spending time out bush with his family. He has just begun sewing alongside his wife Roxanne Petrick, making sculptures that speak of country, people and place. Cornelius is also well versed in the dying of the blankets and silks, gathering local plants and rusty metal, wrapping and boiling till the fabrics change colour, ready for use on the sculptures and the jewellery. He is also working on the films being made through the art program.
Born 1970, Santiago, Chile. Since 2006 artist and filmmaker Leonardo Ortega has been working closely with Aboriginal communities in Central Australia on projects that support artistic and social outcomes. This continued from his line of work that began in Chile in 2000 with video installations about the struggle of Mapuche-Pewenche Indigenous people against the development of a hydroelectric project supported by both a transnational company and the Chilean government. Leonardo's artistic work has combined natural and social sciences with art. He has focused on gathering different perspectives among Indigenous peoples about colonisation and modernisation processes, aiming to contribute to a dialogue on these complex subjects. He has developed these projects in the Chilean Southern Andes, the Amazon Region and the Central Australian Desert Region. Leonardo also works as a freelance filmmaker and has extensive experience in stop-motion animation, video editing and compositing. Leonardo founded Periphery Media in 2009, and has been working as a facilitator, editor, animator and director on diverse projects within the Aboriginal Media sector, for NGOs and government organisations. These projects often involve educational messages, supporting both skills development and creative processes in Central Australia.