Pulangkita pitjangu (When the blanket came)

“I want to light a fire in you…….light a fire with spirit and knowledge.”

Behind the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2020 finalists Rene Kulitja & Rhett Hammerton’s work!

Rene Kulitja is a passionate Pitjantjatjara woman driven by a desire to enrich and care for the lives of Anangu people.

Rene was born at Ernabella/Pukatja (SA), then a remote Presbyterian mission. The mission was founded in 1938 by Charles Duguid, who insisted that all his missionaries learn Pitjantjatjara and that children be taught in their own language.

Growing up in the APY Lands in a world rich with culture, law and spirit, Rene now sees things changing:

“Today I see something happening. I see something coming towards us, something has come into our world……”

“This blanket represents English that is coming and pressing me down, I can only see through a tiny hole. I feel smothered by the blanket of English.”

“This blanket has come and covered over our language”

“I think a lot about the two worlds that we live in now – the non-Anangu world, whitefella world, the mainstream world, and the Anangu cultural world. I think about how to work within both worlds, how to bring them together so we’re supporting each other with strong knowledge about both worlds. And I think about how to pass on my experience and knowledge to my children so that they stand strong in their culture, stand strong in the two worlds.”

Rene Kulitja

Rene is a NPY Women’s Council Director, an artist for Tjanpi Desert Weavers, founding director of Walkatjara Arts and chairperson of Maruku Arts Governing Committee. She is an environmentalist, chorister with the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, member of the Uti Kulintjaku mental health team at NPYWC, dancer, women’s rights advocate, law woman and grandmother.

Rhett Hammerton

Rhett is a long time photographer for NPY Women’s Council with many years working in and around remote communities. Rhett has built friendships and the confidence of many of his Anangu subjects. He works with a respectful and considered approach focusing on collaboration, inclusivity and adherence to cultural protocols.

Rhett has a background in Photojournalism and a growing visual arts practice.

Vote for Rene & Rhett  in the National Photographic Portrait Prize Peoples Choice Award

Rhett Hammerton