Learning Resource

Yarrenyty Arltere Artists and Tangentyere Artists
Blak Parliament House


Yarrenyty Arltere Artists and Tangentyere Artists, Blak Parliament House, 2021, commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra for the 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial: Ceremony. Courtesy the artists, Yarrenyty Arltere Artists and Tangentyere Artists.

Blak Parliament House is an installation of soft sculptures and paintings created collaboratively by members of Yarrenyty Altere Artists and Tangentyere Artists, Aboriginal-run art centres located in Mpwarnte/Alice Springs, Northern Territory. The structure is surrounded by people, animals, meetings and debates, as well as placards protesting the treatment of Aboriginal people.

The soft sculptures, created by members of Yarrenyty Altere Artists, are made from reclaimed woollen blankets, carefully dyed with pigments sourced from local plants, tea, and corroding metal, embellished with brightly coloured woollen thread and feathers. Alongside this is a series of paintings taking the form of placards created by artists from Tangentyere Artists, they bear slogans such as ‘SAFE WATER FOR EVERYONE’ and ‘OUR KIDS BELONG WITH US’.

For many First Nations peoples, especially those living in remote and regional areas, Kamberri/Canberra is seen as a distant place where decisions are made that affect their everyday lives. This interpretation of Parliament House shows Aboriginal people and others meeting, debating, and taking an active role in the political process.

Look closely the characters in this artwork. What can you see them doing?

Read some of the placards you can see out loud.

What does Parliament House mean to you and how do you think it impacts your daily life?

What are the artists asking us to think about through their re-imagined parliament house?

Why do you think a collective of artists working together made this work? How does a collective of people work differently to an individual?

Using a big piece of paper or cardboard, and any writing tools that you like, write a list of all the things that are important to you and your future - things you think Parliament House should know.

This might be something like the environment, social justice, education, your future career, school, sport - whatever is important to you, your family, and your community.

From this list, write a statement or manifesto that could be taken to Parliament House that represents  the concerns of you and your community.

From the Audio Tour:

Artist Marlene Rubuntja on Blak Parliament House

Art, it’s like, giving us power. Push you through so many things that you've never been before.

It makes us keep going, and it makes us proud. It makes us strong in our heart.

So we want everyone to see that we are part of Australia and um, we want to show them that our art is part of this country.

It's part of us. Yeah.

This Parliament House is for everyone. White, Aboriginal and any other colour. It belongs to the community. It does not just belong to those white men me and Milton always see talking on TV. People like my father and other old strong people weren’t scared to talk. They talked for their people, for their Country. They talked because they really wanted things to be better for their people. Not just words, but feelings, too.

I think I’m following in my father’s footsteps and my brother, Mervyn, too. We [are] not ashamed to talk, not scared of those people in that Parliament House in Kamberri/Canberra. They better listen because we really have something to say: really good, kind and strong for everyone and for Country.

— Marlene Rubuntja, 2021