The Community of Ampilatwatja is the largest of three communities under the Aherrenge Aboriginal Association. It is located about 320 km north-east of Alice Springs and has a population of about 350 people who are predominantly Aboriginal people of the Alyawarr language group.
Ampiltwatja is in the heart of Alyawarr land on the Sandover Highway. The Alwayarr people have always lived there and have travelled between soaks in the hot weather and have close ties to the people who live at Lake Nash.
The land around Ampilatwatja was created as Ammaroo Station in 1940, and in the mid 1980s an excision of land was made for the Alyawarr people. In the 1990s, with the return of Utopia Station to traditional ownership, the Alyawarr people of Ampilatwatja made a claim for their traditional homelands. As Banjo Morton says: “We never moved from this country. This is our father’s father’s country. We can’t leave it!”
In 1999, the community arts centre was established, under the banner Artists of Ampilatwatja. This has provided the community with the means to increase economic opportunities, while, at the same time, reinforcing the value of the Alywarr people’s culture.
The artworks produced at Ampilatwatja maintain a strong focus on Alyawarr lore, with a particular emphasis on the natural landscape. The community of Ampilatwatja made a conscious decision not to paint ‘Altyerr’, Dreaming stories. The artists have chosen, instead, to paint the country in which those Dreaming stories sit. This makes the Aboriginal art style of this region unique.
The artists’ work is distinguished by the microcosmic detail invested in elements of landscape, all of which is marked out in the finest of dot painting, using a rich palette of colours.