KT Aboriginal Fine Art showcases three generations of art hand-painted by Aboriginal artists Kelly Taylor, T’keyah Ware, and Kelilah Ware, who belong to the Antikirinya-Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha-Wirangu peoples.
Kelly has been painting on and off for 33 years her grandfather is Edgar Dingaman was a Kokatha man who held the title of Senior Lawman with authority over Kokatha issues. Her grandmother Millie Taylor (nee Lennon) was a descendant of the Antikirinya peoples through her mother, and also has connections with the Yankunytjatjara, Pitjantjatjara, and Arrernte peoples through her grandmother, great grandmother, and great grandfather.
Kelly explains her nana Millie was her greatest influence, she always encouraged her to paint on the country and pass down many ancient stories along the way, her nana who was also her teacher, and left behind a legacy that was known by many respected elders within the communities her nana grew up in and places she lived, following her nanas example, she passed down what she learned to her three daughters, who are also painters too.
The stories behind each painting are about her childhood days when she travelled with her family, hunted and gathered traditional foods, playing and rolling down beautiful red sandhills of Ernabella [now Pukatja], Fregon [now Kaltjiti], Ayers Rock [now Uluru], Indulkana (now Iwantja), Alice Springs, Coober Pedy, and Port Augusta, where she would camp surrounded by trees, wildflowers, sandhills and plenty of water holes to swim in and sit by the campfire on country and listening to her nanas and other elders telling stories. This is what inspires her to create these beautiful pieces based on her family’s journey on country and Dreamtime stories that have been handed down to her throughout generations.
Art was never on the agenda, for 20-year-old T’keyah she says she “hated art” during school, not having the patience for the creative pursuit but ended up falling in love with the practice and now wants to pursue the talent full-time.
Kelilah says after many months of admiring her mum and young sister's art she picked up the paintbrush and fell in love with painting too.
Kelilah says she used to be confused and didn't know where to start her painting so she would ask mum and she would help her start a painting then Kellilah would finish it, but today she can finally design and paint her own symbols onto the canvas and put together a design and story the proper way.
Kelly’s daughters have inherited their great-grandmother’s ancient style and painting technique but have also created their own. The girls say working with my mum is sometimes annoying because we do disagree over colours and designs, mum wants it this way and we want it our way, so we’ll disagree over a few things, but we end up coming together after all the disagreeing and we finally work it out and another beautiful piece is created.
T’keyah & Kelilah says creating and working alongside their mother is so important to them they say she teaches us a lot of ways to place our symbols and design to a story before we paint and why it’s important to be patient, which helps us produce beautiful paintings and encourages us to be better every day and we are very grateful to have such a supportive mum and dad and mum as our teacher!
When creating the pieces Kelly explains the family mixes colours to suit a story and designs using their traditional symbols. Our style of dot painting we call creeper dots, where we blend and overlap colours to bring out the beauty eye-catching effect of ancient art merging with traditional and contemporary art.”
The family says that sharing their family’s stories and continuing this tradition for years to come is their priority and that the paintings themselves are rooted in their shared history and the history of their late grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother who was half Antikirinya and Arrernte and great-great-grandfather who is a full-blood Pitjantjatjara man.
Kelly explains to her daughters how important it is to respect their Aboriginal culture when choosing a storyline based on their family’s traditional lifestyle, journey on country and Dreamtime stories that will be handed down to them.
her daughters are learning more and more about their culture, Aboriginal art, and how important it is for them to return to the country every couple of months to continue to learn about their culture, storyline and listen to their elders to learn more until it is their turn to teach their kids one day.
The family says during the process of painting they love to base their painting around the maternal family’s stories and connection to the country.
Kelly says she would love to see her daughters “continue to paint and share her family’s stories and designs that she learned from her grandmother for many years to come and carry on their great-great mother’s legacy and continue sharing and celebrating their culture.”
When Ms. Taylor was interviewed by Vogue Living on a particular piece Kelly calls out Blue Rain, a vibrant blue piece the artist says, “reminds me a lot of when we lived on my grandmother’s homeland called Windu-Windu just outside of Ernabella on the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) lands, there were days where we would just sit and stare at the Big Blue Rain.”
Looking to the future the mother and daughters are planning their first exhibition in Adelaide and hope to one day open a family gallery and have their works exhibited across Australia and the world.
Today KT Aboriginal Fine Art is a family of four, Kelly's partner Trevor Ware and their two daughters T'keyah & Kelilah who comes from a family of strong traditional backgrounds on both sides.