Newmont sponsorship fosters launch of new Indigenous art history book


Recently launched art history book Behind the Doors tells the story of the Yuendumu Doors, a series of 27 remarkable visual chronicles of Warlpiri country and Dreaming, which were painted thirty years ago on the doors of a remote desert school.

The Doors represent one of the earliest examples of Aboriginal artists successfully transferring their ancient ground paintings to a large-scale, modern medium, and represent more than 200 sites in the Warlpiri and Anmatyerre territory.

The artists wanted the Doors to remind the Yuendumu school children of sites and obligations extending across their country. The Doors remained at Yuendumu for 12 years, resisting the desert wind and sun, and surviving robust treatment from Warlpiri school children before they were relocated to the South Australian Museum in 2011 where they were cleaned and restored.

The publication, which was one of the key projects fostered by a three-year partnership agreement struck between Newmont and South Australian Museum in 2011, provides critical new information on the Yuendumu Doors. Author and researcher Dr Philip Jones travelled to Yuendumu to gather images of the mythological sites in the Warlpiri landscape and conducted interviews with the most prolific Doors artist the late Paddy Japaljarri Stewart, the former principal of the Yuendumu School Terry Davies and Warlukurlangu Artists’ Aboriginal Corporation Chairman Otto Sims.

Newmont’s Senior Vice President Carlos Santa Cruz, Group Executive Environment and Social Responsibility Ken Ramsey, and Environment and Social Responsibility Manager Jarrod Riley attended the official launch of the Behind the Doors at the South Australian Museum.

The South Australian Museum has one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of ethnographic objects with around 44,000 items from all regions of Australia and offers unparalleled depth both historically and geographically.

Behind the Doors: An Art History from Yendumu, by Philip Jones