Longitude 131˚ Celebrates a Vibrant Partnership with Ernabella Arts

October 31, 2018

Since Baillie Lodges assumed management in November 2013, Longitude 131˚ has developed a mutually rewarding, multi-faceted partnership with indigenous arts community Ernabella.

Located some 250km – or a 30-minute scenic flight – from Uluru in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, Ernabella now supplies its vibrant ceramics and canvases to Longitude 131˚ for display around the lodge and which are also for sale in the boutique.

Proceeds from the artwork commissions and sales make up the majority of the community’s income, ensuring the sustainable economic growth and preservation of the culture of its artists and residents.

As the relationship has grown, so too have the ways the lodge and art centre work together. Guests have a rare and very special chance to meet the artists and see how they create their works in regular artists-in-residence visits at the lodge, or in bespoke adventures to visit the art centre by four-wheel-drive or charter flight.

In 2016 and 2017 Baillie Lodges entered into a partnership with the Ernabella Arts Inc, providing $50,000 per annum over the two years to support the income of a dedicated ceramist, who would both train and mentor the artists with the aim of helping the community to become economically self-sufficient and culturally robust.

The partnership has been quickly successful and is celebrated in a new video recorded by film maker Oliver Nasht. You can watch it right here:  https://youtu.be/NV3nLkaf4nU

The Ernabella-Longitude 131˚ partnership success story is inspiring for locals and visitors, with more local indigenous artists engaged in the ceramics studio in 2017 than ever before. From 127 artists at the studio last year 43 were new, represented 55:45 men to women and more than 67 percent of the new ceramics artists were under 30.

The artists produced almost 70 percent more individual ceramic pieces in 2017 than in the previous year, totalling 1,131. The community benefited from a boon in sales, with some 952 individual pieces sold, representing a 27 percent increase on sales in 2016.

At Longitude 131˚ we have seen the power of inter-generational art teachings, with 26 women of various ages up to 60 years creating some 500 ceramic ‘spinifex’ tiles that surround the bar under the leadership 19 year-old Marceena Jack, while the male elders from the community trained the younger men to craft 25 wooden spears, or kulata which are set strikingly against graphite walls making a dramatic entrance to the spa.

Outside of Longitude 131˚, the Ernabella artworks were included in 16 exhibitions across the nation, with artists Rupert Jack, Pepai Carroll and Derek Thompson awarded several prizes, from the Muswellbrook Ceramics Art Prize to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander Arts Awards and reaching the USA via the Harvey Arts Projects.

On a local community level, enthusiasm for the ceramics and arts has been reignited, with weekly ‘pots and pizzas’ evenings held to engage the young men of Ernabella, while three senior artists returned to their craft after a four-year hiatus. Four visiting potters shared their skills and knowledge in development workshops, while three artworkers further developed their skills in glazing, firing and kiln packing.

The language of ceramics and of the community has also been preserved, with a special bilingual booklet complete with photographed instructions developed by artworkers Lynette Lewis and Roxanne Carroll to detail the technical side of the ceramic process, ensuring the craft is maintained across generations and is also shareable with other artists.

The power of a good partnership! The good news from 2018 will appear here in due course.