Balgo: Creating Country, is a landmark publication in Aboriginal art, Australian history, and art historical scholarship by John Carty.
The book tells the story of Balgo art movement, one of the most vibrant, colourful and influential schools of Western Desert painting. But to tell that story, it also tells another, the story of Balgo itself. A tiny community on the fringes of the desert, created by missionaries, and now governed by Aboriginal people. A tiny community through which the transformation of life for Aboriginal people in the 20th Century is laid bare. A place where art emerged as a response to that history.
Balgo: Creating Country shows the birth of a painting movement in the context of thousands of years of cultural practice, breaking down the category of Aboriginal art and rebuilding it, dot by dot, into something resembling the language of a new Australian Art.
We decided we gotta do our own painting now. About ngurra and tjukurrpa. Ngurra are the places we came from, our Country. We came to the mission from Kiwirrkurra, from Canning Stock Route, from Mulan lake Country. All the different families. All now to this Country we call Balgo.
And we have always enjoyed our culture. We never stopped. Always dancing and singing, teaching our kids and keeping our culture strong. Here in Balgo. We keep our ceremonies, we visit our Country. That’s why we still live here. That’s why we paint. That story from our Tjamu and Tjatja (grandfather and grandmother). Our rockholes and waters where we used to live. We paint that. Our bush tucker and lovely bush potatoes! We paint that.
Balgo is Country for all of us now. We were all born here, these generations here today. We are Wirrimanu kids. We belong to Balgo. That’s what we paint. That’s why we paint. This is our story.
~Eva Nagomarra, Warlayirti Artists
This is a hardback, clothbound linen book, 404 pages, published in 2021