A monumental exhibition of Indigenous artworks depicting a significant Aboriginal Songline was staged at the South Australian Museum from March until June 2014.
The exhibition is the culmination of years of work by Traditional Owners of the Ngintaka Tjukurpa who collaborated with archaeologists, anthropologists, filmmakers and Museum staff to create a remarkable storytelling experience for the public.
A collection of outstanding paintings by some of the leading artists of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the state’s far north forms the core of the exhibition. While the paintings are truly impressive, artists have used woodcarving, ceramics, fibre art, video, photography, sound design, computer animation, spear making, and traditional building techniques to create an immersive environment they hope will convey the complex and layered story of the Ngintaka.
The exhibition tells the story of the giant Wati Ngintaka, the Perentie Lizard man, who travels across the APY Lands creating landforms and food sources in his epic quest for a superior grindstone. In 1988 Traditional Owners decided to share the open version of this story with a wider non-Indigenous audience.
In 1994 they invited Traditional Owners from across the APY Lands to an Inma Festival, a celebration of dance and song, where they professionally recorded the Ngintaka Inma and story. This recording was then edited and produced on a CD that was approved for sale to the public in 1996 by the APY Council. The Anangu Elders’ aim was to record the Songline for their children and grandchildren to listen to after they passed on, and enable the wider non-Indigenous community to gain a greater understanding of Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara culture.
The Ngintaka Exhibition at the South Australian Museum was presented by Ananguku Arts and Culture Aboriginal Corporation with the Songlines of the Western Desert ARC Project. Partners in the Songlines Project are the Australian National University, Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council, the National Museum of Australia, the Palya Fund and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water and Communities, and Ananguku Arts. The exhibition is supported by Arts SA and the South Australian Museum.