Vanessa Inkamala, Dialysis, Homeless, Diabetes, 2015, watercolour and varnish on paper, UTS Art Collection, purchased 2016

Vanessa Inkamala

Tjurita (West MacDonnell Ranges, NT)

Dialysis Homeless Diabetes 2015

watercolour and acrylic varnish on paper

UTS Art Collection, purchased 2016


“We want to send out [a message] to those people who are selling Coke and Kentucky Fried Chicken to our people. We got so many people in dialysis, with diabetes, heart problem, lung problem and all that, all this grog, they’re selling it. Our people are buying these grogs and these foods.”

–       Clara Inkamala, Hermannsberg artist


The Australian artist Tony Albert and Indonesian artist Timoteus Anggawan Kusno were invited to run a number of workshops at the Many Hands Art Centre during a cultural exchange residency they were undertaking in Alice Springs supported by Asia Link.

The Many Hands Art Centre is the home of  the ‘Hermannsburg school’ of watercolour artists, made popular through the work of the late Albert Namajira. The artists at the centre are the grandchildren and relatives of Namatjira and his style of painting has been passed down through the generations.

Vanessa Inkamala watched her father paint as a young child, which inspired her to become an artist, painting her country of the Central Desert. She says of this work made during Albert and Kusno’s workshop:

“My partner needs to go to dialysis 3 times a week. This is due to eating fatty foods and sugars. A bit of people in my surroundings go to dialysis regularly.

I have diabetes. Again, due to the food I consumed I got this disease.

Homeless – Many people in my community re waiting for years to obtain a house to live in, for example my brother Reinhold has been waiting for years.”


Article written by UTS Art Collection curator, Janet Ollevou for UMag:

Arguably one of Australia’s best-known Aboriginal artists of the 20th century is Albert Namatjira (1902-1959). Namatjira’s distinctive landscape paintings gained him international celebrity in the 1930s and 40s. His fame led to an offer of citizenship for himself and his wife at a time when Aboriginal people had few rights or legal recognition.

More than 50 years after his death, Namatjira’s artistic legacy continues. His children and grandchildren, and those of the other artists associated with the Hermannsburg School (an art movement that began on the Hermannsburg Mission in 1930s) continue to express their connection to their land through finely painted watercolour landscapes.

Namatjira’s grandniece Vanessa Inkamala is part of this new generation of painters, and took part in a recent project with artists Tony Albert and Timoteus Anggawan Kusno – this year’s recipients of the Kerjusama artists in residency program through Asialink and Artback NT. The paintings produced through this collaboration feature landscapes rendered in the Hermannsburg tradition, but with the addition of text painted in clear varnish. Each artist has chosen powerful words that address issues of health, housing, mining, and copyright – reflecting the extreme social and political issues affecting their community.

In this most recent addition to the UTS Art Collection, the artist (Inkamala) has written the words dialysis, homeless, and diabetes – all issues that have had direct impact on her life and those around her, and all potentially preventable or mitigated through appropriate action. Just as her great-uncle’s artworks contributed to the wider recognition of Aboriginal people, so these most recent works tell the story of the journey made by Indigenous Australians since Namatjira’s time, and how much further we all have to go.