Australia: Purple House Western Desert Mural, painted with Aboriginal Youth and Dialysis Patients. Partnership with Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute


A rainbow of desert color bursting into the boosh animals from the minds of Aboriginal Children and Elders on the Purple House, Western Desert Dialysis Unit. This project featured more than 50 participatants, and the story is a mosaic of Maloo (Kangaroo), Honey Ants, Emu, Boosh Turkey and Animals of all shapes and sizes. The emphasis was on traditional life, and the lives that all of these people have lived out boosh. Thank you to Alice Springs Purple House , Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute , Gap youth center, Co-Faciliatator Shay Koren and all of the incredible community who created this story.

Australian News 7 Article  by Neda Nanovac- Australian Associated Press


Hailing from different central Australian communities, the kids couldn’t understand the elders.

So they meet in the middle, in English, to discuss dreamtime stories, how they hunt for bush tucker, and how they’re going to paint enormous walls.

The Purple House clinic and community centre in Alice Springs is already a distinctive building, but this week a group of about 10 dialysis patients and a dozen or so town camp kids are brightening it up even further with a huge public mural.

Max Levi Frieder is the American founder of international community arts network Artolution, and is digitally connecting Alice Springs to communities in Cuba, Costa Rica, Mexico, Israel and Palestine who have already created a web of shared visual stories through about 200 art projects.

“A lot of it comes down to common humanity and a realisation of the shared beauty of culture, the shared difficulty people have in their own places… it’s about being able to stimulate a universal language of communities through the arts,” Mr Frieder tells AAP.

“They speak different languages, have different cultures, have different histories, but colour is universal; people can speak with their hands.”

For the Warlpiri and Pintupi people who come to the Purple House for treatment for kidney disease and other chronic illnesses, there can be a sense of stigma attached to travelling far from home to receive the essential treatment.

Manager Sarah Brown says that traditionally they wouldn’t have visited the Alice Springs area unless invited.

“To be here sitting on someone else’s country, there’s a sense of shame that `I can’t be back in my own community doing my own thing, I’m sitting on someone else’s country waiting for my next dialysis day, waiting for my family to come and visit me, waiting to die’,” she said.

“Purple House is about valuing people, helping them to stay well as long as possible, to get back to country and to be an asset to the Alice Springs community because they’ve got all this rich cultural knowledge and stories to tell.”

The aim of Artolution in Alice Springs is for the children to collaborate with the elders to depict and honour their stories.

Kiana Bird, 15, and her sister Larissa, 12, are visiting Alice Springs during the school holidays from the Mulga Bore outstation in the Utopia region of central Australia.

From a family of artists, Kiana says she wants to become one too.

“We’re doing a little bit painting about the dreamtime, (of) people sitting around the fire, cooking (kangaroo) tails and singing around the fire,” she said.

Part of the mural depicts the significance of eating traditional bush tucker rather than processed foods.

Creatures such as honey ants, witchetty grubs, echidna and lizards will burst out of an enormous rainbow, which holds deep meaning for the people of central Australia as part of the myth of the rainbow serpent.

There will also be two big depictions of life around campfires.

“A lot of the ideas were based on missing their homes and bush places and having to live here because of their (health) conditions,” Mr Frieder said.

The children’s art, while not necessarily “conceptual Aboriginal art” contains traditional themes, he said, and has echoed the way they have shared stories with the elders.

“That’s really cool to see, some of the repeating themes that you see in some of the older generation’s art in the hands of the kids, who may not have that experience and training, so it looks different but still has that cultural influence.”

David Dixon works in the chook yard at the Purple House in the mornings, and receives dialysis in the afternoon.

His home is Yuendumu, about 300km north of Alice Springs.

He has been overseeing the painting and said the kids were doing a good job: “Painting makes people happy.”

Ms Brown said there was a perception that kids in remote communities don’t care about culture and family as much as previous generations.

“But these were kids that came into a space they’ve never been in before, met the old fellas and had this shared understanding of the things of value being about family and telling stories and going hunting and looking after the country,” she said.

“Purple House is not a clinical place, it’s not a sad place, it’s a place were people are sharing stories and looking forward to the future.”

Mr Frieder will travel to Yarrabah outside Cairns in Queensland for a follow-up project building a large-scale percussion instrument out of trash and recycled materials.

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