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Date of Birth: 1 July 1936
Tjigila Nada Rawlins is a Wangkajungka woman from the Great Sandy Desert. She is a founding member of Karrayili Adult Education Centre and began painting in 1994 at the Karrayili annexe established in Wangkajungka community, 100km southeast of Fitzroy Crossing. Today Nada paints at Mangkaja Arts. This is Tjigila’s story:
I was born in the Great Sandy Desert. My mother never put me in a blanket. I never saw my father. We walked from the desert along the Canning Stock Route. We walked through Billiluna. One kartiya [European] called Len Brown picked us up early in the morning in a truck. He took us to Moola Bulla. I had a sore on my arm and they took me to the clinic. They gave me lots of needles. When my arm was better I lived with my family at Moola Bulla. Then we walked alongside the river to Christmas Creek. We walked becuase we had no motorcar. We carried our swags on our heads.
To provide some context for this incredible statement on the Mangkaja Arts website, the Canning Stock Route is almost 2000 kilometres in length and traverses three deserts — the Great Sandy, the Little Sandy and the Gibson, in northern Western Australia. Tjigila Nada Rawlins is one of a generation of Indigenous people whose livelihoods have centred around understanding the elusive yet bountiful offerings of these hot, harsh, desert climates.
National Gallery of Victoria
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Charles Darwin University
Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
Fitzroy Crossing High School
2008: Fitzroy Valley Education Centre – panels project