In October 2019, I had the opportunity to undertake a 4-week internship at Ikuntji Artists. I chose to come to Haasts Bluff after graduating from a Bachelor of Fine Arts/Visual Art in 2018 and wanted to gain some more professional experience and learn more about contemporary Aboriginal Art. I had a great time working in the art centre and learnt a lot of things that I wouldn’t if I hadn’t come to Ikuntji. While working in the art centre I mostly worked on photographing and editing artworks for cataloguing, stretching and priming canvases and screen-printing t-shirts. I also helped with day-to-day tasks such as cleaning the art centre, getting tea and coffee for artists and watering the garden. My favourite part was being able to work with artists and talk to them about their work and hear their stories.
While staying in Haasts Bluff, I lived in a donga next to the art centre which I shared with another volunteer and contractors who came to work at the art centre. In the donga, I didn’t have any phone reception or access to the internet but I was able to access both during the day at the art centre. Adjusting to living in a remote community and being immersed in a different culture was difficult at times, with the most challenging part being navigating the language barrier, which I did not anticipate. While in the community I attended two funerals, one of which was for an artist from the art centre who had recently passed away. On the night of one of the funerals I also attended a community church sing along which was really beautiful and heart-warming to witness after the day’s events. I was also able to go on a few walks and drives around the community and the surrounding area which is in one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen.
Throughout my time at Ikuntji I always felt very safe and welcomed by the community. Haasts Bluff is a very peaceful and warm community, and even though it is very remote, it never felt as isolated as I expected. I feel so honoured and privileged to have been able to come and have this experience at Ikuntji Artists. I learnt and experienced more than I could have imagined and can’t wait to return to the Northern Territory.