Name: Hayley Atkins
Hayley Atkins - background and the CSR Project [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Hayley Atkins speaks about her background, her involvement in this curators' meeting and where paintings sit in relation to Country. Hayley discusses the strength of works, her favourite painting and why she began painting herself on the Canning Stock Route Project. Hayley also speaks about her work at Martumili Artists and how she wants to learn more so she can go back and teach others.
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_185_Hayley_Atkins
Interviewed By: Clint Dixon
Location Recorded: Old Masonic Hall, Nedlands
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Verbal Consent
Full transcript: Clint Dixon: Can you introduce yourself?
Hayley Atkins: My name Hayley Atkins and I’m a Jungala and I’m from Jigalong community. But … I’m Hayley Atkins and I’m a Jungala and I’m from Jigalong.
CD: And how old are you?
CD: What's different from the last curators meeting to this one?
HA: This one is … the second one is different ‘cause we had to match the paintings together, to come on the wall, how to look and match the colours and the shapes and strong paintings.
CD: How did you plan this curators meeting?
HA: We planned it … how to stand on the wall and to match other paintings, smaller paintings.
CD: Can you explain how you plan the CSR paintings?
HA: We rolled out a long paper and started drawing a long line and started to write the wells, like from 1-51 Well, and then we started putting all the Art Centres and put all the paintings there next to it, next to art centres and the painting … what number well they was painting, putting all the paintings to match the wells.
CD: So to get a better understanding of where all those nine art centres and language groups?
HA: Yeah, yeah, and which well they painted, and which story goes to which well.
[Nicole says they’re running out of battery on one of the cameras]
CD: Can you say your name, where you come from and what your background is?
HA: Hey I’ve gotta turn this phone off, somebody could ring me.
CD: What have you learnt since the last curators meeting?
HA: Um … I learnt that … choosing all the paintings, and we had to pick which one was a good painting, and which one was strong and good stories, and which one was weak and wasn’t standing out properly.
CD: Was it hard to choose the paintings?
HA: At first it was easy ‘cause we knew which painting was strong and which painting wasn’t standing out and … yeah.
CD: So you Terry and Louise had the same idea?
HA: Yeah, at the first … first meeting we came down here.
CD: Out of the 100 plus paintings, how many are left?
HA: We went down to eighty paintings.
CD: Are you still trying to reduce the number of paintings?
HA: Um … we just picked fifteen paintings, or, I think twenty, twenty-two, that we’re trying to put it down for an exhibition in Beijing.
CD: Is that your favourite painting behind you? Can you talk about it?
HA: Yeah. She’s a … her name is Mulyatingki Marney and she live out in Kunumu community and in two places and in Kunawarritji, that’s on the Canning Stock Route, Well 33, and she’s an old woman, old lady, who paints her Country and paints her stories about her life and her family, and what was really happening out there in the desert.
CD: What sort of style is it?
HA: Um … she have her own styles of ways she paints and she always paints dot paintings, ‘cause this is her traditional way, and … what am I gonna say? Um …
CD: Was it hard choosing your favourite five?
HA: No, it was easy, it was hard, but I just picked five paintings because I liked it and I like how they paint, plus it’s got a strong story as well, and meaning.
CD: Can you tell me about your paintings?
HA: Um, that’s my first painting that I paint and that painting of when we went on the Canning Stock Route project and I was working with old people, collecting all the paints, mixing paint for them and giving my canvas out to them and … I kind of seen all my family and all my people sitting there and painting and I was thinking to myself I’m missing out on the good opportunity, plus I went out there to learn to … how to paint, do painting and learn some stories and history about that place, whereas I didn’t know any history.
Yeah um … we went on this, oh … I seen old people and middle-aged woman painting so I seen myself wasn’t doing anything. We had biggest mob people there painting and I was the only person that was walking around and helping, so I felt something ‘cause I seen myself as an Aboriginal person not doing painting, like I needed to learn something and to learn history and stories and what they painting. So I just got a canvas and people started telling me, ‘go on just paint, paint, do painting your way, how you want to paint, as long as you can learn from us, see how we painting’. I was thinking really hard, and I just painted the hills, what I was looking around, I looked around I seen hills and trees, then my boss told me … just paint where we got bogged. And I thought I’ll paint that so that was my first painting.
CD: So what was the story behind it? With the car and trailer?
HA: The trailer, it had my nanna and me and some other people were there, like Dadda Samson and Lily Long. It was going along in the track, we got bogged and we had a trailer behind with a lot of food and stuff, and we got stuck and the biggest mob of Toyotas was behind us, so everyone had to get out and help us and we just couldn’t get it out, and the old people started saying we stuck, you know, we’re gonna stay here. Yeah.
CD: Any bad experiences during the CSR project?
HA: Yeah, we … going on the Canning Stock Route was … you need a … new Land Cruiser plus spare tyres and a lot of food and water – ‘cause you out there in the desert and no hospital, no help out there. But as long as there’s Toyotas going past there, tourists and … plus you need a lot of water. Some wells got clean water, drinking water. And we, on that trip we broke down a spring brake underneath, so lucky we had all our bush mechanics out there. They was fixing … they broke the branch and started chopping it, they tie it up in this … made it as a … hold it, so they fixed it and we just packed up and kept going.
CD: What have been the fun moments?
HA: The fun part was getting to the best painting, choosing the best, outstanding painting that stand on its own, like, brings out the bright colours from the painting and plus stories too.
CD: Any funny stories about the crew?
HA: Yeah, it’s … the first curators, yeah emerging curators’ meeting was, it was like a few people, but on the second one it’s like we all here. And it’s been fun too. And we all working together and …
CD: Can you tell me about John Carty's song?
HA: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, John Carty made a song, made a funny song, and making a joke out of the song and making it funny as well and made us all laugh.
CD: What was the song about?
CD: What do you want to get out of this project?
HA: Yeah. Yeah. I’d like to learn more and more other stuff so I can go back and teach others, because when I go back I work at school as well, with kids, with painting. And … getting more experience.
CD: Can you tell me about your work?
HA: My work … I work for the Martumili Art Centre in Newman and we work for six communities, Kunawarritji, Punmu, Jigalong, and Parnpajinya, and all our office is based in Newman. And, in Newman we pack everything like paints and canvas, we make canvas there, and we take it out to the six communities and when they finish they send it back to us, we catalogue it, take a picture of it and some goes to the gallery and some we sell there. The rough and ready work we sell there in Newman every August, festival time, and basket, some we keep for exhibitions. And … the other place I work at is the school with kids, I paint with kids, learning them what to paint and how to paint and what colour to use.
CD: When you're curating, what do you look for in a painting?
HA: We look for a … um …. a painting that stands out on the wall. Yeah, strong story and … yeah. Strong story and strong painting with light colours and colour that shines, bright up the room.
CD: Anything else you'd like to add?
HA: [Doesn’t add anything further]
Video recording: Tape 13, Tape 14
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Hayley Atkins; © FORM, transcript only
Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.