In celebration of NAIDOC Week Rialto in partnership with Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art presents a stunning collection of indigenous art. Curated by Gallery Director, Adam Knight, this collection is the work of twelve indigenous artists creating pieces inspired by their own perception of Australian landscapes, flora and fauna or by stories passed down to them by family members. NAIDOC week is an opportunity for all Australians to celebrate the rich history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


The Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art was established by Adam Knight and Gerry Ryan OAM, who share a passion for Indigenous Australian art.

Exhibiting the outstanding work that continues to be produced in this field today, the gallery was created to provide an inspiring space for visitors to experience the artworks of Australiaís First People.

The collection, which sits at the basement level of Mitcheltonís iconic Ashton Tower, features some of the largest works produced by Australiaís most respected Indigenous artists including Yannima Tommy Watson, Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri.

As the largest commercial gallery in Australia, it represents every major Indigenous artistic region including works from over 15 government art centres.

Adam Knight was born in this region, and was introduced to Aboriginal culture at a young age. His commitment to the artists continuing this rich tradition today has led to a career which has spanned over 30 years.

Recognised as a leading figure in the Aboriginal art industry, Adam is a past President of the Aboriginal Art Association of Australia, an approved valuer of the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program, a founding signatory of the Indigenous Art Code of Conduct and a member of the Art Consultants Association of Australia. Adam has long term relationships with many artistic families, some spanning more than 25 years and often including multiple generations.

In addition, Adam is the principle consultant to Australiaís most active private collector of Indigenous artwork, Dr Patrick Corrigan AM and has curated over 80 exhibitions throughout Australia and abroad.



Bush Medicine Leaves, 2017

This painting depicts leaves of the yam plant that are used for medical purposes. Women go to different places around their country, Utopia, to collect these leaves. Once selected the leaves are boiled to extract resin and kangaroo fat is mixed through creating a paste that can be stored in the bush for extended periods. The medicine is used to heal cuts, bites, burns, rashes and also acts as an insect repellant. Women perform bush medicine ceremonies at different times of the year. In preparation for the ceremony, the women paint their bodies with special markings for that particular ceremony.



Emu Feathers,2021

Raymond’s painting depicts Emu Dreaming, of which he is a custodian and spiritual ancestor.
“(The) emu it’s a big encyclopaedia collection, where books belong to language groups, chapters belong to all these clan groups and we’re custodian of one chapter, so we are not allowed to paint any of the other stories , we’re a part of a big encyclopaedia collection. We are a link in the chain.”

When the emus came into Ngarleyekwerlang, they came into contact with a large group of bush turkeys who had hidden a lot of bush tomatoes in trenches within the land. The emus had been travelling for a long time, and after arriving in Ngarleyekwerlang, wanted to find and eat food. However, when the emu’s found the bush tomatoes, the turkeys wouldn’t share and a fight began. The tomatoes were scattered across the countryside, marking the landscape.



Rosellas, 2016

Turbo painted animals because, as he told Uncle Herb, when he was a teenager living on the Mildura streets and the Murray River bank, the animals were his only friends. Turbo’s work may seem naive in the simplicity of form, but there is an incredible energy in the dynamic composition, colour and line. Using bright colours and bold outlines, he usually worked on a large scale and painted quickly using unmixed acrylic paint. His engaging pictorial style and distinctive creatures from the dreamtime made his works pulsate with an irresistible and syncopated beat.



Bush Fire Dreaming

Waru Tjukurrpa relates to Fire Dreaming and the use of fire for hunting and for land management on traditional Aboriginal lands. Jorna Newberry has extended the imagery and story that she has previously represented under the title Walpa Tjukurrpa, or Wind Dreaming. Both these Dreaming stories relate to Jorna’s mother’s country at Utantja, on Pitjantjatjara country near the intersection of the three state boundaries of Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia.

In the paintings Jorna has represented the land (area in white) being burned off in a controlled way. The swirling areas of red indicate the fire and the effects of the wind. The people would stand down-wind to create the line of fire. As it moved forward the fire would flush out lizards, snakes and goannas, which hunters ahead of the fire would attempt to kill. Jorna describes her mother’s country also as being filled with kangaroos and camels, rock wallabies and birds – larger game that was attractive to the hunters.

Jorna’s mother’s country at Utantja is described as a large stretch of sacred ceremonial land located amongst hilly country, where a large rock hole provides sufficient water for people to gather in significant numbers. It is here that people come together at appointed times to prepare for ceremony, involving painting up with ochre in traditional designs, singing the sacred Tjukurrpa song cycles and ceremonially dancing the symbolic journey of the ancestors.

When these larger groups of people gather together for ritual ceremonies it is important that they can gain enough food from the land to feed everyone. For this reason the focus on managing both fire and wind gains extra importance as part of the ceremonies. In these paintings of the Waru story, Jorna uses the vibrant contrasts of colours to show the movement of the wind creating eddies over the land, and steadily growing larger as it surges across the open country.




My Grandmother’s Country, 2021

This painting represents my Grandmothers country; it is an abstract landscape using traditional aboriginal motifs and depicts the beauty and abundance of natural resources available in the region. Women are shown gathering food, depicted by the “U” shapes throughout the work. Various bush foods including Bush Berries and Yams are featured throughout my artwork, as are groups of Spinifex grass, campsites, bush fires and sources of water. This area is very important to my family, as this is where we come to find food, educate our young and do business and important Ceremonies.



Anatye (Bush Yam), 2021

Paintings by Jeannie predominately represent the flower and seeds of the Anaty, which she enjoys collecting in her homeland. The yam grows underground with a viny shrub growing above ground, up to 1 metre high. It is normally found in the Acacia scrub lands on the spinifex sand plains, and it produces large pink flowers after the summer rain. The Anaty is a tuber (or swollen root) of the shrub and tastes like the common sweet potato. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

The linear work in Jeannie’s artworks represent the impressive root system of the yam, and dots represent its seeds. There is an ancient Dreamtime story belonging to the Anaty, which artists continue to be taught as they get older. By depicting the Anaty in their paintings, Indigenous artists are able to pay homage to this significant plant and encourage its continual rejuvenation. Using a variety of colours in each brush stroke, Jeannie builds up a pattern of harmonious (and occasionally contrasting) colours, embedded in (or defined by) a multitude of fine white dots, executed with intricate detail. Her paintings capture the viewer’s attention as their eyes meander across the canvas, enjoying the harmonies and subtle variations in each brush stroke – no two being the same.

Although the Anaty (Bush Yam Dreaming) is shared by several other Utopian artists, Jeannie’s works are unique to her and immediately recognisable. Her works and the variegated colour tones within them, make fascinating pieces in the home, because their colours subtly change, deepen or brighten with every nuance of the ambient light. They make excellent choices for interior design enthusiasts.


Bush Onion, 2021

The painting represents the grass of the Bush onion (Yalke) as its spreads creating a flower pattern along dry river beds in Central Australia. When the grass of the bush onion has dried out, the Warlpiri women must skilfully dig out the onion which is eaten raw or cooked in the hot sand by the fire.

The Bush onion is of significance to Aboriginal people who own this dreaming and totem and can only be collected according to law. The women pay homage to the spirit of the bush onion in their ceremonies.


Bush Plum, 2021

Polly creates her paintings by building up layer upon layer of colour to create multi-dimensional images. Polly Ngale’s paintings often depict bright yellow seeds, a feast for emus, amongst the Bush Plums that grow in her country. Her paintings are borne from traditional knowledge and her confident approach to painting can be seen in the way she assembles streams of seeds, piling dots upon each other to create rich thick fields employing glowing palettes of colour.

Her subject matter is drawn from acute observation and memory. Intimate knowledge of country, personal history and ancestral journey. Seamless in her portrayal of these elements her paintings are sensory mind maps that Reveal the artists place, and her sense of self all within one framework.


Tjuntala Ngurangka (Country with Acacia Wattle), 2018

My painting is about the tjuntala (acacia wattle) that grows in the country where I’m from, near Oodnadatta in South Australia. They have beautiful yellow flowers. When I was younger my parents taught me how to grind the flowers with sand and ashes, to make a paste to eat. It’s very sweet and delicious!


Bush Medicine Leaves, 2021

In this painting Abie depicts the leaf of the antywerleny (Acacia tenuissima), a type of wattle. The leaves of the antywerleny are crushed and mixed with animal fat for use as a medicinal ointment, or soaked in water to make a medicinal wash. Abie says this particular bush medicine is still made and used by the people of her country today.


Aweyle, 2019

The women paint each other’s breasts and upper bodies with ochre markings, before dancing in a ceremony. The body designs are important and, painted on chest and shoulders, they relate to each particular woman’s dreaming. The ochre pigment is ground into powder form and mixed with charcoal and ash before being applied with a flat padded stick or with fingers in raw linear and curving patterns. The circles in these designs represent the sites and movement where the ceremonies take place.


Women’s Ceremony, 2017

Denise’s paintings depict the dancing tracks which are made in the sand during women’s ceremony. Through their ceremonies, women pay homage to their ancestors, show respect for their country, and dance out their collective maternal role within their community. A design based on these dancing tracks is painted on women’s bodies before a ceremony is performed, and this same design can be seen today in the women’s works on canvas. Ochre, charcoal, and ash are all used to paint designs on the women’s upper bodies.


Awelye, 2017

Through their awelye ceremonies, women pay homage to their ancestors, show respect for their country and dance out their collective maternal role within their community. A design based on these dancing tracks is painted on women’s bodies before a ceremony is performed, and this same design can be seen today in the women’s works on canvas. Ochre, charcoal and ash are all used to paint designs on the women’s upper bodies, and Pwerle women paint their chests, breasts and upper arms for awelye in ochre, red and white. The designs they use have been passed down for many generations, and only the Pwerle or Kemarre owners can paint them.


Ngayuku Ngura, 2020

Pauline is painting tjukurpa (story) about the journey of water, explaining how to care for kapi tjukula (water holes),
particularly in the area around paralpii (Victory Well). This tjukurpa was passed on to her by her mother.


Ngayuku Mamaku Ngura ini Makiri, 2018

‘I am painting the landscape from above, as you might see it from an airplane or as a bird looking down. It is beautiful country both from on the ground and up above.’

When Michelle created her work, ngayuku mamku ngura ini Makiri (my father’s country, a place called Makiri) she was thinking of Makiri and how the tjala (honeyants) tunnel though the sandy soil as well as about the waterholes, the assemblages of trees and shrubs and the country that is ‘quiet’ (empty).


Mamungarinyi 2019

Pollyanne paints her mothers country west of Kaltjiti and south of Watarru. She has painted the Women’s camp. As Manyitjanu, her Aunty, describes the country. The place Mamungarinya is a long way away. It is over the other side of the sand dunes past Tipilnga. The place where many white trees are growing, many white marble gums. The place where women came turned into the white marble gums on the sand dune south of Watarru; this is a tjukurpa story. So this is Mamungarinya where lots of little gum saplings and emu bush grow. This is a place of claypans. This is a women’s site south west of Watarru.

At this place where many marble gums grow and there are many sand dunes. and lying here amongst the white marble gums is a large pool of beautiful fresh water. Like a clay pan after the rain, the deep hole is filled with healing water after the rain.


Sandhills and Riverbeds, 2021

Delvine Pitjara continues the tradition of using fine dot work to represent Country at Utopia, showing the undulating sandhills and formations of dry river beds that mark this landscape. The paintings are graphic representations, mostly rendered in black and white, that reveal the important sites and locations scattered across the landscape.

The paintings continue the tradition of Anmatyerre women at Utopia who maintain the ceremonies and activities that are focused on maintaining the resources of the land. These include ceremonies for bush foods, for bush medicines and for the general health of the people and their country.


Untitled, 2021

‘Inspired by a trip Mutawintji – the colours and the creek that runs through the gorge.

I spent the day walking in the creek bed, passing the waterholes that had been left by the recent rains. I admired the beautiful colours in the rocks and saw that even in the stagnant waterholes there was life.

This land is ancient and I imagine unforgiving, I know that Indigenous people lived on that country, they left their stories behind.’

NAIDOC Week Exhibition Curated by – Adam Knight – Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art

Further details of the artwork provided by these artists for this exhibition can be accessed via the viewing room:

To enquire or purchase any pieces contact Adam Knight via