Three vibrant rugs, designed by Pantjiti McKenzie from Ernabella Arts Inc of the Pukatja Community, are exhibited on Level 1 of the new State Library Spence Wing. The rugs constitute an integral element of a showcase of art and library treasures representing South Australia’s social and cultural heritage.
relationship between the Library and Ernabella Arts Inc inspired
the commission of designs by Ernabella artists. The State Library
has long-supported Ernabella Arts Inc in their efforts to preserve
their community’s heritage, initially through the donation
of shelving and filing cabinets that are used to house their archival
collection. The women of the Pukatja Community also entrusted
a collection of crayon drawings created by school children attending
the Ernabella mission school during the 1940s and 1950s, to the
State Library. What has become the distinctive Ernabella style,
‘Anapalayaku walka’, reaches back to the first drawing
classes in the mission school.
The State Library commission, which was made possible with the generous support of Myer Foundation, Perpetual Trustees, the State Library of South Australia Foundation, Hon Diana Laidlaw and Ms Bronwyn Halliday, is an important step for the art centre. The commission provides mentoring and training opportunities by enabling the Ernabella artists to improve their skills at responding to design briefs. The artists were involved in the contractual processes, and have developed an understanding of maintenance of design intent during fabrication processes. The intent was also to aid the artists in gaining additional rug design projects during the course of the commission, with the Library, the architects, and the rug manufacturer using their respective connections to promote the opportunities and skills of the artists.
In September 2002, the commission coordinator, Ms Pamille Berg, conducted the first of two design briefs at Ernabella. Each of the artists from Ernabella Arts Inc was invited to submit a design for the project, from which one or more artists would be selected to create the final designs.
The State Library’s Art Advisory Committee was delighted by the quality and variety of designs, finally selecting Pantjiti McKenzie as the designated rug design artist.
As a result of the quality of the designs, Eric Korda Bros/Tai Ping Studios, the rug fabricator, have asked several artists, to create designs for further consideration by the company.
A second stage design orientation was held at Ernabella in November, when Pantjiti McKenzie was briefed on the procedure for preparing a final design. The rug manufacturer briefed three other artists on the preparation of designs for future commissions, and up to seven other artists were briefed on the preparation of rug designs for training purposes and possible further use.
The final design was presented to the Art Advisory committee in March 2003 for approval. The rugs were manufactured for installation in June 2003, and have pride of place in front of the Treasures Wall on Level 1 of the Spence Wing.