Pilbara Rock Mosaic

Kirsten Jeffcoat

Silk painting.

Kirsten Jeffcoat’s work ‘Pilbara Rock Mosaic’ was created after her previous collaboration with the Ngarluma Aboriginal people who are the original inhabitants of the coastal areas in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. In 1994 she completed 76 works from her 12 month stay in the Pilbara region and created an exhibition titled ‘Taking the Pilbara to Paris’.

The rock art found in the Pilbara region is sacred for Aboriginal people and its traditional custodians the Ngarluma-Yindjibarndi, the Yaburara-Mardudhunera and the Woon-goo-tt-oo. Juhurrpa (“The Dreamtime” or “The Dreaming”) is a religion grounded in the land itself, it incorporates creation and other land-based narratives, social processes which encompass morality, ethics and kinship regulations. This complex concept informs people’s economic, cognitive, affective and spiritual lives.

 ‘Pilbara Rock Mosaic’ does not reflect the aboriginal Petroglyphs (rock engravings) directly, which are found in the area but the work is still charged with meaning. The artwork reflects the rock itself creating a Braque like image of fragmented tesserae set within a red silk frame. The work seeks to create a closer connection with the natural world and reveals a degree of bonding with the land itself. Jeffcoat having absorbed the natural beauty of the Burrup Peninsula where the Petroglyphs are located created a ‘sense of place’ by recreating the colours and contours of the Pilbara. The expansive spaces, the delicate eco- systems, the quiet yet fervent intensity of the outback all come together in this silk painting to convey perhaps her own Dreamtime (Juhurrpa) experience, wherein cultures are overlaid on the land.

Just as ‘The Dreaming’ embraces time past, present and future so too does the ‘Pilbara Rock Mosaic’ which reflects the hopeful sustainability and continuity of local landscapes.