In Focus

The Katherine region of Australia’s Northern Territory is roughly equal in area to the state of Victoria and is home to 20,000 people – about 50/50 Indigenous and non-Indigenous. This frontier land is home to many great artists working in every medium you can imagine. Here are some of their stories:

 

Toni Tapp Coutts

Toni Tapp Coutts

Mar 2016

Larger than life. I don’t think there is a person in Katherine who doesn’t know Toni Tapp Coutts, or at least know of Toni as longstanding Alderman of Katherine Town Council. Born and raised in the Territory, Toni grew up on Killarney Station, and spent over a decade on the MacArthur River Station in Gulf Country. She’s competed in camp drafts and barrel racing, owned a variety store in outback Borroloola, and a dress boutique in Katherine. Toni was once the Executive Officer of Katherine Regional Arts (we feel you should know)! Toni has also spent the last twenty years encouraging a new generation of writers through the NT Writers Centre Katherine arm, KROW. And all this is really just scratching the surface. Toni was shortlisted in the 2002 NT Literary Awards for her story ‘Daisy & Dora’. In 2009 Toni spent time at Varuna, the Writers’ House in Katoomba NSW to work on A Sunburnt Childhood. One of the chapters from the memoir, ‘Walking the Wet’, was published in Meanjin Quarterly Review in March 2010. Toni also self published biography ‘Bill Tapp – Cattle King’ in 2010, and has co-produced and designed the covers for six of the KROW anthologies....

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Gillian Banks

Gillian Banks

Oct 2015

Image source: Gillian Banks Gillian Ellett Banks Gillian trained as an art teacher at Prahran Tech, RMIT and Melbourne University, after matriculating in her home state of Victoria. later adding a Fine Arts Degree (Deakin University). Married to Ian and with four children, Gillian has lived in the Northern Territory since 1968, where the unique landscapes, range of climate and challenging light quality has produced the perfect landscape painters milieu. Gillian has worked over forty years in the Katherine community as a painter, teacher, tutor and mentor, establishing the Katherine Museum, two National Trust properties, the Loose Group of Artists; running artists camps, the Katherine Craft group, Arts Katherine, K Show Society, serving on the board of MAGNT and as President of the N Trust and currently on the board of GYRACC, NTs Arts Panels and a N Trust Councilor. After majoring in ceramics, Gillian now paints large to tiny scale water colours and gauache on paper, oils on stretched canvas and occasionally acrylics. A robust painting style, working quickly and often delicately on many works in the studio at once to create spontaneous work which appears often to be devoid of detail, where brush strokes and paint placement...

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Aya-I-Ga

Aya-I-Ga

Sep 2015

A local hero | a story that should be told For many of us, reared on a diet of blockbuster films of war heroes and superheroes, we generally look ‘outside’ to be amazed by acts of bravery and selflessness. Ironically, we only need look in our own backyards to uncover heroes equally fit for the silver screen. Yet many of these stories remain unknown to the families, later generations and the community where they occurred. One such story for us, in the community of the Katherine region, is that of Aya-I-Ga. Aya-I-Ga was born in about 1882 on Alawa country, now part of Nutwood Downs Station. In 1911, Aya-I-Ga (sometimes known as Neighbour) was arrested for stealing a bullock on his own country. A policeman stationed at Roper Bar – Constable William Johns, arrested Aya-I-Ga, and placed him in neck irons to transport him to Darwin – presumably to face trial. It was February, and of course the Wilton River was in flood. As they swam across the fast moving river, the policeman’s horse was swept away and injured Johns in the struggle. Incredibly, despite having heavy iron chains around his neck and hands, Aya-I-Ga, who had already made...

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Ben Allen BROADWING

Ben Allen BROADWING

Jun 2015

Ben Allen, film score composer, song writer, vocalist, musician, producer, editor, recorder, illustrator and video editor. The eclectic and sublimely talented artist Ben Allen, whom employs the pseudonym Broadwing, has succeeded to the NTH. There is no other word more apt. 2012 saw Allen take out first place of the coveted 2012 APRA Tropscore competition on his first attempt. Part of the popular Tropfest short film festival, the APRA Tropscore competition is about finding the best short film soundtrack. Allen’s film score was judged the best for 2012, beating 900 entries across 23 countries. Allen stepped up to perform his winning and decidedly haunting piece in front of a massive crowd of 90,000 as part of Tropfest at Sydney’s Domain. 2012 also saw Allen, invited as one of only eight artists to attend the Triple J APRA Song Summit. Allen participated in a roundtable discussion with influential music industry heavyweights, such as Gotye and Adalita Srsen. Allen released his debut EP in 2014, Broadwing Pinhole Camera, a whole three years in the making. Pinhole Camera songs feature an amalgamation of organic and software instrumentation. Described as distinctive, intricate and textured. Dom Alessio, host of Home and Hosed described Pinhole...

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Nina Ambjerg-Pederson

Nina Ambjerg-Pederson

May 2015

  Nina Ambjerg-Pederson completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2014. Nina also won the prestigeous Majlis Travelling Scholarship 2014, which will see her head overseas later this year. She has exhibited and worked as an arts tutor, writer, director, producer, facilitator and performer! She also has a particular interest in community arts projects. You wouldn’t be wrong in guessing Nina is both a talented ball of enthusiastic energy, and a sponge, ready to soak up anything new to her. To learn more about Nina Ambjerg-Pederson please take this link http://ninaambjergpedersen.com/ As part of the Katherine Regional Arts ambitious SCULPTURES IN THE BUSH project, sculptor Nina Ambjerg-Pederson traveled to Lajamanu late April to conduct a week long JUNK SCULPTURE workshop with local artists. As you will see , and without giving too much away, there was some unique and decidedly AMAZING junk sculpture created. Also part of the Katherine Regional Arts SCULPTURES IN THE BUSH project, sculptor Mark Swartz is currently in Ngukurr, while fiber artist and sculptor Aly De Groot is in Numbulwar. Given the success of Nina’s workshop, we are quite excited to see what these two final workshops produce....

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Yidumduma Bill Harney

Yidumduma Bill Harney

Apr 2015

Bill Harney, ND, Lightning Brothers BH3, 100x120cm. Image source: http://www.aboriginalartcentre.com.au/category/bill-harney/ Yidumduma Bill Harney was born on Willeroo Station circa 1936, around 120 kilometres south west of Katherine. This country is known as the Land of the Lightning Brothers. Yidumdama paints in traditional colours, and depicts the Lightning Brothers along with other images from his area on canvas, and on didjeridoos. 
He also makes the didjeridoos he paints from the wood of yellowjacks, sand bloodwood, red woolybutt, white woolybutt, black woolybutt and stringybark. 
In his paintings on canvas, and on didgeridoos, he brings to life the Dreamtime stories of his Aboriginal Wardaman people. Yidumduma Bill Harney is also an esteemed Elder and Senior custodian of the Wardaman people. As an Aboriginal, Yidumduma speaks seven languages, and is unfortunately the last senior lawman (knowledge custodian) of his people. Over the years Yidumduma Bill Harney has travelled widely in Australia and overseas promoting his cultural heritage, and the magnificent art record of his people. Yidumduma is widely regarded as a Master story teller or songman of his people. As an artist, Yidumduma’s work is in public and private collections all over the globe, with paintings in the National Gallery of Australia, The Federal Parliament and the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. He is...

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K Town Up and Coming Talent

K Town Up and Coming Talent

Mar 2015

  Here at KRA headquarters we thought it was high time we dedicated this space to all the amazing young people in the Katherine region who love music and can play an instrument, or sing a tune or two. Jam Night has provided a much needed platform for these young folk to get up and give it a go with a backing band, or without – it’s their call. It is beautiful, and I know that sounds drippy, but it is beautiful to watch the transformation in these young people from when they first step up to the end of their number. You can’t help but notice the joy and exhilaration written all over their faces. Each time they get up they gain just a little more confidence; slowly learning to relax and get into the groove. As a spectator with absolutely no musical ability, it is a sight to behold. Here at KRA headquarters, we get such a huge kick out of seeing these kids grow. And let’s face it, that ounce of confidence gained helps them travel through all areas of their young lives. Katherine has an eye opening, incredible pool of talent, and Jam Night is...

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General Vibe

General Vibe

Feb 2015

Left to Right: Drummer Matthew Knight, lead guitarist Lee Hubble aka The General, and bass player Penny Fawkner. Introducing the new KRA JAM NIGHT house band, the talented and completely cool GENERAL VIBE! Lee Hubble aka The General, Matthew Knight and Penny Fawkner have united to form Katherine’s latest line-up, GENERAL VIBE. Although a new band formation, and this comes straight from the horse’s mouth (the horse in this instance being Matthew), these guys have roughly 300 years combined musical experience (not sure of the maths here)!Matthew Knight has a long history with music. In our interview, Matthew let it slip that as a teenager he appeared on ‘New Faces’, a popular Channel 9 prime time talent show then hosted by Bert Newton in 1994. New Faces saw the likes of contestants such as Paul Hogan, Daryl Somers, Keith Urban, and Peter Andre. Unfortunately for Matthew, he didn’t win New Faces that evening, but he sure gained a little notoriety with the girls and it certainly didn’t hurt the popularity of the band he was playing in at the time, the Highway Dogs.Matthew has played in popular NT bands such as The Track, Indecision, The Three Amigos and until just recently,...

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Serena Pech

Serena Pech

Dec 2014

I think everyone in Katherine holds a soft spot for our very own Serena Pech. With her endearing nature and gorgeous smile that easily lights up a room, how could you not. Singer and songwriter Serena knows how to woo a crowd with ease, and certainly once you catch her voice, which has been described as impressive, sassy, angelic, soulful; it is difficult not to be enchanted. What adds to this is Serena’s ability to pen a song. Serena certainly knows how to capture meaning and feeling in her music, with the unique ability to let her true, quirky self shine through. And we haven’t even touched upon her ability to play an instrument! And play beautifully Serena does. Career highlights to date. Performing at the NT Song of the Year Awards night for MusicNT (2014). Being a NT Song of the Year 2013 Finalist. Performing at the Darwin Festival (2014) with Sietta and Joelistics, also with Dave Spry and the Harmony Birds. Supporting Sietta at the Darwin Railway Club (2014), and supporting Dave Garnham at the Katherine Country Club (2013). And the list doesn’t end here! All this candor, talent and ability rolled up into nineteen years. Songwriting...

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Blekbala Mujik

Blekbala Mujik

Nov 2014

  Cited as next best known to Yothu Yindi, Blekbala Mujik (black people’s music) are incredibly, thirty year veterans of the music industry. A unique blend of pop, rock, dance and reggae sounds has amassed a strong support and fan base for their live performances and recordings. Based in Barunga, Blekbala Mujik formed in 1986 singing partly in Kriol and partly in English. Blekbala Mujik have toured extensively across Australia sharing their rich, harmonious, unique and completely cool sound, empowering communities that they touch in the process. However as lead singer Apaak Miller states, Blekbala Mujik also take the time to spread positive messages about health and education, and to warn of the problems that stem from alcohol and drug use in the communities they entertain. Being able to deliver music and vital messages gives the members of Blekbala Mujik a deep sense of collective and personal satisfaction. Blekbala Music has recorded and released seven albums, the latest offering, Blekbala Mujik, Greatest Hits Live, was released in September 2014. Currently touring, Blekbala Mujik are strong, refined and we can’t see them retiring for at least another thirty years! And to think, this is one of many amazing stories that has...

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Dorcas Ashley

Dorcas Ashley

Aug 2014

Charming and highly accomplished Wägilak woman Dorcas Ashley began her foray into the spell binding and intricate art of weaving as a young girl under the ongoing guidance of her mother and grandmother. With a far reaching knowledge and incredible skill in weaving and jewellery making, Dorcas has however remained loyal to traditional methods and materials, travelling far and wide to find and harvest the exact seed, leaf, root or bark from local flora, all of which require an involved and time consuming process of preparation before suitable to craft. Dorcas is also an experienced and highly regarded teacher and has facilitated many workshops, including the Pandanus Project 2008, Barunga and Timber Creek Festivals 2009, Barthulha Webs 2010, Batchelor College 2011, the Godinymayin Cultural Centre opening and Bush Birds Workshops 2012, and the Barramundi Dreaming Festival 2014. Dorcas Ashley’s drive and passion is founded in the preservation of this unique, traditional, and amazingly beautiful craft for future generations and for this we thank her. Originally from Ngukurr and Bardawarrka outstation, Dorcas has been a Katherine resident since 2008 and is now one of Katherine’s finest treasures. This month Dorcas is generously facilitating a children’s workshop, proudly presented by Katherine Regional Arts, Bush...

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Lily Hargreaves Nungarrayi

Lily Hargreaves Nungarrayi

Jul 2014

Warlpiri woman and renowned artist, Lily Hargreaves Nungarrayi was born circa 1930 in her country near Jilla, or Chilla Well, in the great Tanami Desert, Central Australia. Nungarrayi didn’t come into contact with Kardiya (the Warlpiri word for non-Aboriginal people) often as a child, as she walked with her family over vast tracks of her peoples Warlpiri country. The Warlpiri would gather bush fruit and vegetables. Hunt, cook and eat small game. Drink from rock holes and sleep under the stars. It was in this time that Nungarrayi learnt of Jukurrpa (The Dreaming) through ceremony, iconography and oral narratives. Jukurrpa is grounded in the earth. It is both their sacred religion, and their law. Lily Hargreaves Nungarrayi’s extensive knowledge of, and belief in Jukurrpa is embedded in her contemporary artworks, inseparable and extraordinary. Her work is skilful, energetic, bold, bright, connected, honest and unwavering. Nungarrayi still walks almost everywhere, she is still self-sufficient, cares for many and is a well-respected role model for her people, as well as for Kardiya (non-Aboriginal people). Nungarrayi’s time is devoted to the maintenance and intergenerational transmission of Warlpiri culture and language, she paints daily. Lily Hargreaves Nungarrayi, although largely unheralded, has achieved extraordinary...

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Junkadelic Brass Band

Junkadelic Brass Band

Jun 2014

2014s head line act for Salvage Katherine | Regional Festival of Junk Arts, is none other than the highly energetic and diverse Junkadelic Brass Band. Junkadelic, consisting of a ‘recycled’ percussion section backed by a brass band ensemble; tuba, trombone, trumpet and saxophone. Accomplished musicians and entertainers, the Junkadelic Brass Band hails from the city of Perth, and are here as our VIP Performers for the much anticipated Salvage Katherine | Regional Festival of Junk Arts. Junkadelic are going to share their unique and eclectic sweet melodic sound, which is a blend of street rhythms, Jazz – New Orleans style, funk groves, hip-hop, dashed with a Latin flavour and infused with a 1960s, 1970s influence. The big band stage performance features ‘soul diva’ Randa K, a pocket rocket vocalist who has the ability to knock you sideways! The Junkadelic Brass Band possesses a natural vibrancy, an exuberance which transfers so well to the audience. You will have no choice other than to join in; such is the sweet all-embracing seduction of their music and performance! Katherine you are in for a treat. As part of Salvage Katherine | Regional Festival of Junk Arts, Junkadelic will be holding Junk Jam Workshops,...

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Tom E Lewis

Tom E Lewis

May 2014

Tom Lewis is a prolific and versatile artist on both national and international levels. He is also well known to everyone who lives in our area as a good bloke and a warm friend, supporting and participating in events in his home town of Katherine. It’s difficult to know where to stop when writing about Tom’s life, achievements and current projects, because every day seems to bring fresh news. Tom was born and grew up in the Roper district of the Katherine Region, in South Eastern Arnhem Land. He was a bricklayer and stockman before his acting career began taking him all around the world for stage and screen gigs. He is most renowned for his powerful screen acting, from the lead role in Fred Schepisi’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith 1978 to his performance alongside Ryan Kwanten in the 2010 Australian High-Country Western, Red Hill. But his work with the theatre is equally profound and he has a special connection with Melbourne in this regard, having worked with Playbox, Melbourne Theatre Company, Melbourne Workers Theatre, Arena, Malthouse and Handspan Theatres. Most recently, Tom’s role as King Lear in a reworking of Shakespeare, set in Indigenous Australian society won...

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Mandy Tootell

Mandy Tootell

Apr 2014

Mandy Tootell, is an inspiring local Artists who invests her time and passion into the community through her arts practice. Completing a fine arts degree at James Cook Uni during the 90’s, Mandy has held exhibitions in Townsville and other parts of Regional Australia including of course Katherine. She expresses through a range of art forms from ceramics to lino print, currently Mandy is focussing on textile art, printing fabrics using a range of print methods and using them to create beautiful things, such as the bags and baby in the picture. Mandy has been part of the Katherine Community for the past 4 years working as an art teacher. She is a member of many community groups including the Loose Group, Territory Craft, Katherine Regional Arts, CWA and the Katherine Show Committee.  Mandy is passionate about teaching art to young people she loves supporting them to create something great that they are proud of and finding ways for them to exhibit publicly like the Katherine Show and Katherine Prize. It is evident Mandy has a strong commitment to the community and to artistic expression “I like the connection that can be created in the community through art practice...

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May Rosas

May Rosas

Mar 2014

Katherine artist May Rosas slipped down to Adelaide without fuss or fanfare this month for the opening of an exhibition that features her exquisite glasswork. This Adelaide Fringe Festival exhibition, titled ‘3 way’, features three artists from around our district: May from Katherine, Eddie Janama Kitching of Kalkiarindji roots (currently based in Darwin) and Norma Benger from Daly River. The collection of glass, jewellery and painting was officially opened at Tandanya’s National Cultural Institute by Adelaide Crows AFL star, Territorian Andrew McLeod. May‘s art is surely one of the most unique and improbable contemporary expressions of traditional design around, with dreaming stories worked into glass and leadlight creations. May Rosas’ artwork is informed by her ancestral Wardaman and Dagoman traditional stories and imagery. May began working in glass in 2005 and has established a high level of technique, not to mention her own business, Diganbal Art and Design. May is also passing on this new school of glasswork to younger people and is a truly inspirational figure. May has kindly agreed to present a workshop later in the year as part of Katherine Regional Arts’ 2014 Katherine Local Artists Workshop Series. There is still time to catch the 3 way exhibition...

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Lyn Ainsley

Lyn Ainsley

Jan 2014

Lyn Ainslie has lived in the Territory since 2002, working as an artist and art teacher, sharing her passion and skills in drawing, painting and printmaking. Lyn has held solo exhibitions in Australia and the United Kingdom, she won the Pine Creek Inaugural Acquisition Art Prize in 2007 and has illustrated two NT children’s books since being a member of our arts community.

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Danny Murphy

Danny Murphy

Nov 2013

Katherine artist Danny Murphy has been potting since 1980. He derives ideas from a close association with nature and its rustic harmony, particularly in the north of Australia. He constructs large terra cotta vessels with great variations in colours, patterns, brushwork and textures, making full use of the clay’s beauty. He has worked in Darwin, Sydney and Brisbane and works in Adelaide for 6 months each year. The other 6 months of the year Danny works from his original Katherine NT workshop. Danny has built numerous gas fired kilns, preferring this fuel for a more diverse range of finishes. Danny prefers to use Bennetts pottery clay blending other clays from different states which adds to its plasticity. Danny often uses various sea weeds which are fired onto the surface of the pots to create infinite colours and textures. He has a natural, unforced style – spontaneous and unpretentious. He works full time as a potter, constantly expanding his range of styles. His work is in numerous private and corporate collections and has won several exhibition competitions. Danny has kindly agreed to participate in Katherine Regional Arts’ Local Artist Workshop Series in 2014. Stay tuned for workshop...

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Johanna Bell

Johanna Bell

Oct 2013

Johanna Bell lives in Katherine with her partner and daughter and is the proud author of her newly published children’s book Too Many Cheeky Dogs.

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Manuel Pamkal

Manuel Pamkal

Sep 2013

Manuel was born in 1963, southeast of Katherine.
 At the age of 13, Manuel and his family moved to Eva Valley for a year, and then to Bamyili (Barunga), where they settled and Manuel attended school.

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