Looking at Art - February

<strong>Pepai Jangala Carroll</strong><br/>Born c.1950, Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory<br/>Language: Pitjantjatjara<br/><br/><i>Ininti</i> 2011<br/>Terracotta with slip, sgraffito and clear glaze<br/>H31.5cm; 12cm [diameter]<br/>Charles Darwin University Art Collection – CDU2233<br/>Acquired by purchase, 2011<br/>Image © the artist & courtesy Ernabella Arts, SA

Pepai Jangala Carroll was born at Haasts Bluff, later moving to Papunya as a young boy when it was established as a government-run settlement and administration centre in 1959. Initially schooled at Papunya, he completed his education at Areyonga, then left the Northern Territory with his family, travelling by horse to Eagle Bore, a homeland north of Ernabella in South Australia. Ernabella eventually became his permanent home.

Pepai initially undertook manual labour on the community, including building fences, then worked in the community office. He became a warden and was elected community Chairman and later appointed Director of Nganampa Health, the regional health body. He held the position of Community Constable until 2006, when illness compelled his retirement. He is married to Alison (Milyika) Carroll. They have five children and two grandchildren.

Pepai’s artistic career as a painter began in early 2009, when he joined Ernabella Arts. The subjects of his painting include his father's country, Wati Nyiru and the Seven Sisters, and tali (sand dunes). In November 2010, he was elected Chairman of the Ernabella Arts Executive Committee.

In 2011, Pepai and several other male Ernabella artists participated in the “Wati Workshop”, learning slab building techniques in classes conducted for one month by Simon Reece, an Australian ceramic artist from Blackheath in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Primarily a “vessel maker” of utilitarian ceramics with rich earth tones, highly textured surfaces and granular glazes, Reece’s approach to form and colour reflect his responses to local rock formations and the natural environment where he lives. His respect for local materials, registered in the conceptual resolution of his ceramic forms, was conveyed through his teaching at Ernabella and resonated with the artists’ own creative methodologies and their art’s relationship to “country'.

Pepai’s Ininti 2011 refers in contour and colour range to the desert bean tree and its environment. The tree is prevalent in the Kintore region – the artist’s father’s country. Bean tree seeds change colour from green to yellow and red as they mature. As Pepai notes: 'After the sun burns the trees and makes them red, minyma [women] use them to make jewellery'. In the abstract, chequerboard colour effects of his ceramic, Pepai has captured the natural and mutable properties of ininti. Its curved silhouette is perhaps symbolic of the tree’s trunk or a branch, with a scarified surface of undulating, contrasting sgraffito incisions.

Pepai Jangala Carroll has exhibited regularly in Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Broome, Margaret River (WA), Darwin and Alice Springs since 2009. His work is represented in the Art Gallery of South Australia and Artbank Collections. This is his first work acquired for the CDU Art Collection.

Sources: Ernabella Arts, Artist's Biography & Certificate for Artwork #106-11c; Simon Reece website, http://www.simonreece.com.au/ accessed 2 February 2012.

Anita Angel, Curator CDU Art Collection & Art Gallery
2 February 2012

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