Yunkurra Billy Atkins and Sohan Ariel Hayes

Yunkurra Billy Atkins
Born c. 1940, Palarji (Well 9), Canning Stock Route, wa, australia. Putijarra language group, Purungu skin group. Lives and works Jigalong, Australia.

Sohan Ariel Hayes
Born 1975, Bridgetown, wa. Lives and works Perth, Australia.

Cannibal Story 2013
digital animation
6.52 mins

Martu elder Yunkurra Billy Atkins’ collaboration with award winning animator Sohan Ariel Hayes retells an ancient story as a startling digital animation, opening the door to the past for a new generation of audiences. Yunkurra Billy Atkins is a great story-teller, sharing the dark narratives that score his country primarily through his beguiling paintings and carvings. Cannibal Story represents his first venture into animation. Kumpupirntily (Lake Disappointment) is the dangerous heart of Martu country in the Western Desert, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Yunkurra Billy Atkins describes Kumpupirntily as follows: ‘It’s dangerous, that country. I’m telling you that that cannibal mob is out there and they are no good.’

Video produced by SW Productions
Courtesy the artist and Martumili Arts Centre
Photography: Mark Ashkanasy, Courtesy RMIT Gallery

Yunkurra is a senior Martu artist and lawman from Western Australia known for his paintings and carvings. Yunkurra grew up in the country around Wiluna and holds significant knowledge about important Martu places and culture. When he was a child, Yunkurra narrowly escaped being stolen by missionaries, while his sister was taken away and her story told in the 2002 film, Rabbit-Proof Fence. He has been instrumental in the establishment of Martumili Artists, a collective that showcases the diversity, integrity and strength of Martu culture.

Yunkurra’s work was ‘Highly Commended’ in the 2003 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. He has held solo exhibitions at the Courthouse Arts Centre and Gallery, Port Hedland, WA and William Mora Galleries, Melbourne. In 2005 he participated in an artists’ exchange program through the Wilin Centre, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. His work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia and National Gallery of Victoria.

Sohan Ariel Hayes works in the fields of ‘expanded and interactive cinema’, pervasive games, systems theory, locative media, animation, public art, and large-scale site-specific video installations. His practice is defined by the ability to open up pockets of wonder within the world while pushing boundaries to engage with darker sensibilities.

Hayes has worked with Perth-based pvi collective and received mentorship from British media art group Blast Theory. His work has been broadcast nationally and exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Fremantle Arts Centre, Freemantle, WA; Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA), Perth; Goddard de Fiddes Gallery, Perth; Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart; Jerwood Gallery, London, UK; TAV Gallery, Taiwan; and the Post Museum, Singapore. He has received awards from Laval Virtual, France (2011); the Freeplay Independent Game Awards, Australia (2010); the British Multimedia Industry Awards (2002); Atom Awards, Australia (2002). In 1997 Hayes received a nomination for Australian Business Arts Foundation, ‘Most Outstanding Patron of the Arts’, Western Australia.

INTERVIEW: Jonathan Parsons on Experimenta “Recharge” and Media Art – by Nicholas Forrest, Blouin Art Info….The artwork that began this way of thinking about the theme of the exhibition was the animation Cannibal Story a collaboration between the painter and sculptor Yunkurra Billy Atkins and animator Ariel Sohan Hayes. This work, seen in the exhibition, represents the first time Martu elder Yunkurra Billy Atkins has ventured into animation and retells an ancient story as a startling digital animation that opens the door to the past for a new generation of audiences….
Blouin Art Info, Nicholas Forrest