Our story

Nganampa ara / Tjumalampatju

Tjarlirli and Kaltukatjara Art are two community-owned Aboriginal art centres. We’re linked by our families and a drive to keep stories, culture and history alive. This is where we paint, share stories, maintain our culture and connect to Country.

Desart Desert Mob, 2022

About Tjarlirli and Kaltukatjara Art

Tjukurla and Kaltukatjara 

Tjarlirli Art and Kaltukatjara Art are two community-owned art centers located on either side of the border between the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

The Tjarlirli art centre is located in Tjukurla, a small community of around 50 people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands. Tjukurla was established here in the 1980s due to its proximity to extremely significant cultural sites and the ancestral homelands of community members. Nestled between sand dunes and the vast salt lake (Lake Hopkins).

Kaltukatjara art centre is just across the border in the NPY Lands of the Northern Territory. Kaltukatjara (Docker River) community was established as a settlement in the 1960s and is now home to around 300 people. It lies along stunning mountain ranges and river beds.

Working together

Tjarlirli Art was established in 2006 in Tjukurla, initially operated as a single art centre, supporting artists who relocated to Kaltukatjara for aged care. These artists participated in painting workshops at the aged care facility.

Fast forward a decade: thanks to tireless advocacy from the Kaltukatjara community, an art centre was finally established in Kaltukatjara. Tjarlirli Art took charge of managing Kaltukatjara Art when it opened in 2016. This partnership between the two art centres has been crucial to our sustainability and success.

Together, Tjarlirli and Kaltukatjara Art now represents around 100 Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjatjara artists. We are one of the few community-owned and governed Aboriginal art centers that operate across state borders.

Our strength lies in the deep connection between our two communities and art centers. We take immense pride in working together to preserve and celebrate our rich cultural heritage.

“Our art centres are important for our older and young people, helping each other.
The stories are still there. Wangka titungarala.”

— Nerida Martin

Strong history and governance

Our primary purpose is to preserve and pass on Aboriginal culture through creative practices, while also bringing tangible economic and social benefits to our communities.

Our artworks are deeply connected to the emergence of the contemporary Western Desert Aboriginal art movement in the 1980s. During that time, families relocated from settlements like Papunya and Kintore back to their ancestral lands.

At our art centre, we operate under the guidance of a six-member board, all of whom are artists and community members from Tjukurla and Kaltukatjara. These directors are elected by fellow artists. As a registered corporation under ORIC (Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations), we adhere to strict governance structures and procedures.

Over the years, we’ve established a strong national presence, supporting leading artists and significantly contributing to the wellbeing of both individuals and our broader community.

Our art centre is 100% community-owned.