Anne Nginyangka Thompson ✿ My favourite place out bush

Anne Nginyangka Thompson

1 June 2024

Anne Nginyangka Thompson talks about her commitment to preserving culture and Country through her ceramic work.

Anne Nginyangka Thompson makes ceramic vessels decorated with scenes that reflect the loss of traditional life. She grew up in Black Hill on APY (Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands in the north-west of South Australia. Her father was a leader of the land rights movement and her mother is a senior artist. She began making ceramics in high school and then at the Ernabella Arts ceramics studio. Her awards include the Shepparton Art Museum’s Indigenous Ceramic Art Award (2014 and 2022) and Wandjuk Marika Memorial 3D Award (2023), Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. She has also made jewellery with Kate Rhode. Currently, Anne is chair of Ernabella Arts.

The recent series of works exhibited at Sabbia Gallery employ the sgraffito technique to depict scenes of idyllic life before development and the busy cityscapes that have replaced them. Her works are an important form of memory to help preserve culture, story and Country.

✿ Where is your home?

My home is in the APY Lands. I grew up out bush away from community. My home is peaceful and quiet surrounded by trees and rocks with nature and the environment.

As a child, I wasn’t allowed to play inside. We played outside, with the trees, rocks and skies. There were different sorts of birds and colours. With an old tree, we used to climb up and get little birds. We raised them and taught them how to speak our language. We had a Cockie who could understand and speak language.

My old man grew me up with lots of animals and turtles. I feel at peace. I fell in love with nature, colours of sunset and sunrise.

✿ What are the stories that you tell through your artworks?

I was born here knowing the land belongs to Aṉangu.  I connect history based on how I supposed it to be back in the 1940s through to the 1980s. I draw on paper and then put that onto a ceramic.

My designs come from my mind that sees through the Country. I fell in love with the place, it breaks my heart if we are not connecting with it.

Wamikata sand dunes

As a kid, we had colour pencils. We would draw a story about your favourite place to be. My favourite place is the sand dunes in Wamikata where the kids will normally go and camp out there and play footy and do somersaults. And you watch the sunset as well.

The technology world is an introduced life. It’s not our way of living. The kids have got tablets. They watch YouTube on the phone. Their minds are distracted. You have to do different things, like going out bush and being better connected with a family, sitting around talking story

✿ What are some of the important issues at Ernabella Arts?

Artists have different knowledge and different stories and we like to share our stories with our people and also our children so they can carry them on.

I work now with Marika. She said “This Anne Thompson seemed an interesting person. I love her work. I want to be doing something like her. I want to do ceramics.” I like being a role model for the community. Marika sits next to me when I’m working.

✿ Are there any problems with your natural environment?

Buffel grass has hit the lands and covered all of our bush food so we now go out further to look for food. Rubbish and pollution have also affected our animals and the environment. I remember seeing berries and bush tomatoes on the side of the road. That was the best part of growing up. You’d see them everywhere with lovely beautiful flowers. You don’t see that any more. Buffel grass has taken over. It’s hard to eat, not like the spinifex. We have to go into the Northern Territory border to get our bush foods.

✿ How do people look after the bush around Ernabella?

By keeping the area clean and teaching our ways. Our ways can teach each other (Aṉangu and whitefellas) more. We must listen to the ones who know this place.

About Anne Nginyangka Thompson

Anne Nginyangka Thompson is a ceramicist living in APY Lands and Chair of Ernabella Arts. You can find out about her works at Sabbia Gallery.  She is also profiled at Ernabella Arts. You can also see her jewellery work elsewhere in Garland: In Ernabella, doors open for Aboriginal jewellery.


Like the article? Make it a conversation by leaving a comment below.  If you believe in supporting a platform for culture-makers, consider becoming a subscriber.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *