Founded in 1985, Warlukurlangu is one of Australia’s oldest Aboriginal art co-operatives. Some 800 artists work there, producing 11,000 pieces in 2022 alone.
Today, Director Cecilia Alfonso oversees day-to-day operations, as she has done for more than two decades. Early in his tenure, Alfonso and deputy director Gloria Morales noticed tourists walking past Yuendumu, unaware that they could enter without a permit. To change that, they hung “visitor welcome” signs on the road.
“It reflected our philosophy,” she explained. “Many people have told us: ‘This is the first sign of welcome that we meet [on the Tanami]’.”
Since then, Warlukurlangu has become one of the main tourist spots in Tanami.
Inside we found a warehouse filled with colorful pointillist type paintings depicting dream stories, the native legends that explain the origins of the world and pass on knowledge, cultural values and traditions to future generations. After an hour of browsing shelves overflowing with remarkable paintings, I settled on a red-hued piece bisected by curving dotted lines by artist Christine Nangala Brown. As I walked out, I noticed nods of approval from a group of women dabbing paint on canvases.