Trachoma Community Art Murals



A number of trachoma community art murals were on the display during the close the Gap for Vision by 2020 National Conference 2018. Photos of nine art murals were on display for conference attendees to enjoy and discover the dreaming story and meaning behind each mural.

The ‘clean faces, strong eyes’ exhibition featured photos of art murals from remote communities across Northern Territory and Western Australia including Warburton, NturiyaPmara Jutunta, Titjikala, Arlparra, Nyirripi, Willowra, Papunya and Areyonga.

The art murals were the result of a week-long community trachoma education program delivered across communities in 2016 and 2017. World class artists Adnate, Andrew J Bourke, Leecee Carmichael, Kali and Indigenous Hip Hop Projects worked closely with community members to paint the stunning art murals.

The aim of the art mural project was to engage and work with remote communities to design and produce a ‘clean faces, strong eyes’ art mural that incorporated Milpa the trachoma goanna, key hygiene messages to prevent trachoma and local imagery important to the identity of each community. The art murals are located in a prominent position in each community such as a store or youth centre and provide a daily reminder of the trachoma health messages.

Funded by the Department of Health and B.B. & A Miller Foundation with support from Taubmans & Ironlak

Mural 1. Pmara Jutunta

Pmara Jutunta Art Mural - “clean faces, strong eyes”

Pmara Jutunta (Six Mile)
Artists: Andrew Bourke with community members
Part of the Anmatjere region it is located 184km north of Alice Springs

In Pmara Jutunta the hub of the community is the Community Development Program (CDP) activity centre run by the Central Desert Regional Council. The building has transformed into a bright and inviting space with the entrance surrounded by the words “Welcome to Ti Tree, 6 Mile”. Pmara Jutunta is 9km from Ti Tree and is a key outstation in the Anmatjere region. The mural covers four walls and features local bush tucker, the community football logo and two Milpa’s. The fourth wallfeatures the Kangaroo & Arkie Tree dreaming. A large group of community members painted the mural. A nurse from the trachoma team said “people really feel that they are putting some of themselves and some of the community into the mural”.

Areyonga Art Mural - “kuru kunpu yunpa palytintja”

Rainbow Serpent
Artists: Andrew Bourke and Adnate with community members
Pitjantjatjara community located 230km south-west of Alice Springs

The mural shows one child looking to the community and the other immersed in the local dreaming story. Areyonga is in a valley of a stunning gorge. The community chose to have the mural on the back of the recreation hall, facing the road to the store which they use daily. The artist’s both felt privileged to spend time in such a beautiful community and to leave something that the community can enjoy for years to come.

Mural 2. Areyonga
Mural 3. Arlparra

Arlparra Art Mural - “clean faces, strong eyes”

Possum and the Blood Wood Tree
Artists: Andrew Bourke and Leece Carmichael with community members
Hub community in the Utopia Homelands which incorporate the Alyawarr and Anmatyerr language groups. Arlparra is located 248km north-east of Alice Springs

The dreaming for Arlparra is the Possum and the Blood Wood Tree which was the inspiration for the mural. The artists worked with community members under the guidance of Elder Harold who led the design of the painting of the dreaming story. Surrounding the key dreaming images are local bush tucker and bush medicine including bush turkey and bush banana. The mural is located at the Arlparra Community Store which services the 16 surrounding homelands. Artist Andrew Bourke mentioned that the art mural is “one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever been part of”. On request of the community another mural was painted at the youth centre it includes the slogan “stay deadly and remember to have respect” with Milpa featured alongside the graffiti style art piece.

Willowra Art Mural - "kirlka yingirri, pirrjirdi milpa"

Lander River
Artists: Adnate and Kali with community members
Willowra (Wirliyatjarrayi) is a Warlpiri community located 337km north-west of Alice Springs

The Lander river plays an important role in the dreaming story of the community. It runs dry most of the year, and when the rain sets in the river flows cleansing the land. The river runs throughout the mural and represents keeping the faces clean of the young girls. The two young girls featured were selected by the community and represent the future generation. Elder Maisie Napaljarri Kitson said “the kids are proud to see the girls’ faces”. The community were keen to have a football superhero created for the community team ‘Willowra Blues’.

Mural 4. Willowra
Mural 5. Nturiya

Nturiya Art Mural - “clean faces, strong eyes”

Nturiya (Ti Tree Station)
Artists: Andrew Bourke with community members
Part of the Anmatjere region it is located 210km north of Alice Springs

Nturiya is an outstation 17km from Ti Tree, it has close links with other Warlpiri communities and a connection to Honey Ant dreaming. In Nturiya the Community Development Program (CDP) activity centre doubles as the youth centre where children spend each afternoon. The women of Nturiya took the lead with the mural ensuring it was bright and colourful. Milpa’s presence on the wall acts as a reminder of the trachoma prevention message ‘clean faces, strong eyes’. One child at school said “Milpa talks to us about clean faces and strong eyes and blow your nose and help keep your face clean”. The trachoma nurse said “it’s been great to present the trachoma message in a positive environment”.

Nyirripi Art Mural - “parljika-nyanu, yinngrri-milpa, pirrjirdi-ki”

Artists: Adnate, Kali and Robin Brown with community members
Nyirripi is a Warlpiri community located 413km north-west of Alice Springs

The three escarpments on the outskirts of Nyirripi, in particular Karrku play an important role in the identity and culture of the people living in Nyrirripi community. The mural features local children looking out to the landscape, representing the clean faces, strong eyes message. Nestled amongst the escarpments is local bush medicine that is used to help keep skin healthy. The mural also features the emu which is a key dreaming story of the land, and a source of bush tucker. IHHP artist Adnate worked closely with local artist Robin Brown to bring his vision to life and was impressed with his talent “he’s done this amazing textual realism in the background, I’ve never seen someone do that sort of thing before”. The mural is located at the community store and is in a highly visible location. Elder Colin Jagamarra Gibson commented that it’s a “beautiful painting…and Milpa’s in there too!”

Mural 6. Nyirripi
Mural 7. Warburton

Warburton Art Mural - “clean faces, strong eyes”

Kulilla Kulilla
Artist: Adnate
Warburton is one of the most isolated communities in Australia, 902km from Kalgoorlie and 1,000km from Alice Springs. It lies between the Gibson and the Great Victoria deserts and is part of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia

The Warburton clean faces, strong eyes mural was the first in the series of trachoma art murals. It is located at the community store, where many community people visit on a daily basis. Two local children were selected by the community to feature on the wall, with their eyes reflecting the beautiful landscape. The children represent clean faces and strong eyes with Milpa. The mural was completed by IHHP artist Adnate and was part of a larger project which included a community music video “Kulilla Kulilla Pay Attention” about eliminating trachoma with clean faces and safe and working bathrooms.

Papunya Art Mural - “kuru palya clean’a kanyila”

Honey Ant
Artists: Andrew Bourke with community members
Papunya (Warumpi) community is in Luritja & Pintubi regions with connections to Warlpiri, Arrernte & Pitjantjatjara communities. Located 246km north-west of Alice Springs

Many community members told Elder Punata Stockman that “the community, the locals, they say ‘hey we’ve seen the honey ants on the wall, its looks great and its fantastic’. The mural is at the community stage next to the store with Milpa located nearby. The key connection to the ‘clean faces, strong eyes’ message is that the women believe that children need to keep good eyesight to see the beautiful surroundings. The women added bush tucker and bush medicine around the mural and suggested the silhouette of an eagle flying over the community to provide protection. The Papunya community was elated with the finished mural and said “it makes us feel happy what the ladies have been doing”.

Mural 8. Papunya
Mural 9. Titjikala

Titjikala Art Mural - “kuru palya anangu tjutaku”

Two Eagles
Artists: Andrew Bourke and Leece Carmichael with community members
Titjikala is connected to the Pitjantjatjara, Arrernte and Luritja language groups it is located 120km south-east of Alice Springs

The art mural tells the tjukurpa/dreaming story of the two eagles, with one eagle shown in detail and the other as a silhouette flying over the community. Eagle dreaming is significant to the people of Titjikala, with the community named after the ‘eagle from the clay pan’. The background of the mural includes the red sand hills and a blue-sky landscape, which is a key feature of paintings from local artists. The mural also includes people walking to a local water hole and collecting bush tucker. Leece spoke about the importance of art in sharing a health message “the whole community has been really engaged with the process and the message is spreading around about trachoma”. Milpa is present near the drinking and washing facilities helping to remind kids about the clean faces, strong eyes. The mural is framed by the words “kuru palya anangu tjutaku!” which translate to “Good eyes for all Anangu!”. Local AOD worker Lisa Sharman commented “this mural up here, when people see it, it will remind them to clean their eyes and with their kids also”.