TELSTRA 2020 – Our finalists: Cynthia Burke & Dallas Smythe

We are proud to present the works of our 2020 Telstra Finalists Cynthia Burke and Dallas Smythe. Two outstanding Maruku carvers. Both artists live and work in Warakurna, WA as painters, weavers and incredible carvers. Cynthia Burke is Maruku’s youngest director. Both women learned traditional carving and burning from their families and both developed it further into their own unique style using contemporary form or materials.

“I learned burning by watching my family members. The designs of my family and watching nature helped me to develop my own designs. I enjoy the burning process and how my designs grow on the wood.
The sculpture and the bowl I carved for the Telstra’s represents the story of water. The sculpture represents the trees that lead us the way to find the water and the water is within them and around them, even if we can’t see it, their roots will still touch it. The bowl stands for a Mimpu, which Anangu use to transport water. In the old days it would have kiti (a resin) on each site to hold the water. The bowl is made from the tree that shows us the way to the water, they are one and the water flows around them and in them, just like the lines of my etching.”  Cynthia Burke

Cynthia Burke, Kapi Tjukurpa, pyropen etching on Desert Bloodwood, 655x750x320cm

“In the earlier days I used heated wire for my burnings. More contemporary artists like me using nowadays the pyrography pencil.
My walka board represents ngurra rirra, a plateau of distinctive ironstone pebbles. By their very nature landforms mark sites related to the Creation Ancestors’ journeys across the country; the ‘dreaming tracks’ followed by countless generations of Anangu since. I saw them when the mining company took us on a helicopter flight.
I really enjoy doing the designs on the walka boards, as it not only represents my tradition, but also brings out the colours of the wood and brings it to live. It shows the movement in the wood, that comes out through my design.”  Dallas Smythe

Dallas Smythe, The Rirra, pyropen etching on plywood, 60x120cm & 60x120cm