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Kunawarritji walking around at sunset

Montana is part of the youngest generation of Martumili Artists. She, like her contemporaries, began to paint with her parents, grandparents and extended family, thus fostering an organic process of learning, not only about painting techniques, but also specific locations, family histories, traditional ways of life, and Jukurrpa (Dreaming). In this way, cultural knowledge continues to be transferred through visual arts, keeping Martu culture strong.

Montana’s subject matter is strongly informed by her traditional ngurra (home Country, camp) through her grandfather- Kaalpa (Kalypa, Canning Stock Route Well 23). A permanent water source located northeast of Kumpupirntily (Kumpupintily, Lake Disappointment), the site is of great cultural significance, and is also known for good hunting. Adjacent to the waterhole is a hill of the same name. The landscape around Kaalpa is parlkarra (flat country) bordered by tali (sandhills), stretching as far as Windy Corner, northeast and towards the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The large and dangerous Jukurrpa (Dreamtime) mosquito and fly beings partially created the landforms in this area and continue to live underground here. Kaalpa also features in the Minyipuru (Jakulyukulyu, Seven Sisters) Jukurrpa, a central creation narrative for Martu, Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people that is associated with the seasonal Pleiades star constellation.   

Stylistically Montana’s paintings meld traditional and contemporary elements, demonstrating the development of her own aesthetic while continuing to reflect the powerful influence of her elders. Dotted paint applied in modern palettes depict walka (designs), iconographic forms universally shared across the Western Desert. For many thousands of years these designs have represented men and women, kapi (water sources), tali (sandhills), different varieties of warta (trees, vegetation), ngarrini (camps), jina (tracks), jila (snakes), and Jukurrpa (Dreaming) ancestral beings.

Montana has adopted an experimental approach to art making, and is always enthusiastic to explore other mediums, including jewellery making, screen printing and digital photography.

Name: Montana Clause

Language: Manjilyjarra


Montana was born in Newman, her family home, in 2002. Here she attended both Newman Primary School and Newman  Senior High School. Montana's mother grew up in the area surrounding Jigalong, just east of Newman. Her father was born and raised in Wiluna, approximately 350 kilometres south of Newman. For this reason Montana has spent much time travelling between and staying in these areas with her six brothers and sisters. She also regularly travels between the six remote Aboriginal communities that Martumili Artists works with; Punmu, Parnngurr, Kunawarritji, Jigalong, Irrungadji (Nullagine), and Warralong.

Montana began painting with Martumili Artists in 2009 at just eight years of age. In 2018 she began working with the group as an arts worker, assisting with various tasks around the art centre, and assisting with field trips out on Country. 

She is a great role model for younger kids and is proud to be passing on her own cultural traditions and practices. She enjoys going out on Country and helping old people and watching them paint their Country. 

© the artist / art centre