Ampilatwatja women focus on Alice for print project 

Edie Holmes 
Relief printing is that much clearer for Edie Holmes thanks to her new glasses

Charles Darwin University’s Alice Springs art facilities must have looked great for the women of Ampilatwatja.

With flashy new glasses from the local chemist, they took on a week-long relief printing project as part of CDU’s ongoing support programs for bush communities.

The latest group of 10 women from Ampilatwatja, 320 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs, has spent a week learning the technique which allows personalised high-resolution reproductions of art.

Their works are already acclaimed with a current showing at the National Gallery of Victoria.

CDU Art lecturer Suzi Lyon has developed a strong bond with the women and after running workshops at their community, extended an invitation to the campus.

“It’s a vital trip not only to breathe new skills into their art, but also to shop and follow up on medical needs,” she said.

Sorry business, sickness, and hospital treatment are an unfortunate reality for many Indigenous women, but Ms Lyon knew the quality of life for some would be boosted with new glasses.

She suggested they buy reading glasses and was amazed to see the vibrant colours selected by the women.

“They carefully chose the frames and took on some wild colours which looked absolutely fantastic,” she said. “They were a class act.”

Their presence at the art facility, like many other communities, was a privilege for Ms Lyon who said the learning curve was steep for both parties.

“Some of these women speak very little English and learning some of their language is very important and (my) attempts at pronunciation are hilarious,” she said. “They are very patient teachers.”

She plans to visit Ampilatwatja next year and help to develop further skills for the art centre.

“These ladies are painting all the time, so I am excited to see their new art when I return,” she said.