Wayne Eager and Marina Strocchi ran an art workshop for Ku Arts at Coober Pedy in 2011. This is where they first met Lilly Ulah and where she began painting. Here's what Wayne had to say about her work.

"Lilly Ulah was one of a group of women who attended a painting workshop held in Coober Pedy in 2011. She was a resident of the Aged Care facility there.  Ananguku Arts SA had contracted me and Marina Strocchi to deliver a two-week workshop as the community had, for some time, been requesting the establishment of a Community Arts Centre. It was immediately apparent that Lilly Ulah’s use of paint on canvas had a natural tactility as she immersed herself in the poetry and performance of the act of painting her story."

"During 2012 and early 2013 I was employed by KuArts to conduct a further series of painting workshops in Coober Pedy. During this time I was privileged to witness the development and progress of Lily’s unique style, which unfolded like a precious manuscript being brought to life, page-by-page, day-by-day. Whilst painting her words were few but her face beamed with exquisite delight at the completion of each work as she held it up to be collected and replaced with a new blank canvas.  For Lilly each painting is a continuous exploration, a re-living of ancient stories and the expression of the scent of the wild-flowers of the country of her birth and upbringing, Kalkarli, west of Wingellina, WA."

"Lilly’s vitality of life speaks like a song in paint, like she’s playing the violin in a large orchestra, riding the rhythmical flow, bending the notes composing the music as she plays, never putting her instrument down until completion."

Untitled 2012, 90x45cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $933
Untitled 2012, 90x45cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $933
Untitled 2013, 60x50cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $640
Untitled 2013, 60x50cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $640
Untitled 2014, 92x47cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $731
Untitled 2014, 92x47cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $731
Tjukula Kuru Ala

Lilly Ulah paints the

Seven Sisters Waterholes

at Kuru Ala

Untitled 2013, 61x46cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $597
Untitled 2013, 61x46cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $597
Untitled 2012, 90x45cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $845
Untitled 2012, 90x45cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $845
Untitled 2013, 122x71cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $1,745
Untitled 2013, 122x71cm acrylic on Belgian linen, $1,745

A journey to abstraction

Ku Arts Project Mananger, Tony Collins, has organised painting workshops in Coober Pedy for the past three years. In that time he's seen Lilly's work evolve from a formal representation of country to a very contemporary style of abstraction.

"Lilly’s experimentation with colour seems never ending. She is continuously refining her canvasses in tone and contrast and then lashing out with bold combinations. But it’s her passion for paint that makes these works a joy to look at."

"The thing that excites me most about this exhibition is the opportunity to show her new works which depart from her main visual theme in that she has taken the layering a step further and created abstract representations that are extremely alive and vibrant and full of colour and energy. These works kind of explode the Western Desert painting style in the way that abstract expressionism took modern art in new direction."

Tjukula Kuru Ala

Paintings by Lilly Ulah

Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute

253 Grenfell Street Adelaide South Australia

APRIL 10 - MAY 16 2015

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