Rita Watson is a celebrated indigenous artist who proudly hails from Warbuton, a remote community in Western Australia. Her art transitions from iconic canvas compositions to intricate glasswork, working in the style of Milpatjunanyi - an indigenous tradition of drawing in the sand in a visually symbolic language, which holds a profound importance in Anangu culture.
The practice forms tangible connections between story, lore and culture, whether drawn in the sand, upon the body or in this instance - on canvas. Rita uses an interesting palette and granular textures, accentuated by bold linear graphics, which beautifully capture her stories of country.
Tigmi first exhibited Rita's works during NAIDOC Week 2022, and till this day she is part of our Tigmi Art Series. We at Tigmi remain committed to celebrating and sharing the stories of our First Nations people through art. We show our support as allies, and continue to acknowledge, listen and respect the culture of the oldest continuing surviving people on the planet.
Rita Watson is a proud Pitjanjatura Minyma (woman) from Warburton, a remote community in Western Australia. The daughter of renowned Irrunytju artist Tjuruparu Watson, creativity flows deep through Rita’s veins.
A celebrated artist in Ninuku Arts, an art collective based in the far northwest corner of South Australia, Rita is dedicated to her craft. Her work moves through iconographic compositions on canvas, to intricate detailing that can be found on her glass work.
“Rita is an inimitable artist. Most days she is painting in a way that is akin to meditation, always with a super-huge cup of tea from her billy can," says Ninuku’s manager eila vinwynn.
Her artworks are heavily influenced by her father’s country, ‘Illurpa’, where she spent much time as a younger woman, travelling across the NPY land.
In this series of paintings, she explores stories about Ilurpa, located near Papulankatja, Western Australia - where Western Ngaayatjara and Eastern Pitjantjatara dialects diverge. Capturing details of this camp in her work, such as tjukula (rockholes), kalyan kalyan (honey grevilla plant), tjanpi (spinifex), kampurarpa (bush tomatoes), Anangu (people), punu (trees) and wiltja (windbreaks). The land is richly laden with stories and meaning and is an inseparable and important part of the Anangu [people’s] identity.
Rita’s works weave a story of her father’s ngurra (camp & country) that is now her country, home to many dreaming sites, stories and inma (songs). Centred around a 'ladies camp', here the women sing women-only songs – never to be heard by men.
“To the present day, the inma continues to stitch together millennia. It is a tradition that has been performed here in the same way since forever,” says eila.
Rita works in the style of Milpatjunanyi, which is an indigenous tradition of drawing in the sand in a visually symbolic language, that holds a profound importance in Anangu culture. It is a practice that forges tangible connections to story, law and culture, whether drawn in the sand, upon the body or in this instance - canvas. She uses an interesting palette and granular texture, with bold linear graphics.
"Rita’s work displays her wonderful ability to capture the stories of country and those of her ancestors in a unique naïve style with a bold graphic visual language that is both contemporary, yet remains deeply rooted in cultural tradition. We are extremely proud to be bringing this collection of works from the desert to the sea during NAIDOC week." - Creative Director of Tigmi, Danielle McEwan.
Rita Watson exhibits at Tigmi’s Byron Bay studio from July 3, 2022.