My family are all artists, and I used to watch my grandfather, Whiskey Tjukangku, painting. For me, working in the art centre started out as a good way to keep busy and to spend time with friends and family, but over the years more and more people have started taking notice of my work and I’m being recognised as an artist. That’s something I’m proud of; that young girls might look up to me and want to try being an artist.
I love listening to music while I’m working, and the music gives me ideas for the pictures. I might be listening to Tina Turner and that reminds me of when Tina was in the movie Mad Max 3 in the sparkly silver dress. Mad Max is filmed in the outback and looks just like Indulkana, so I start thinking about what it might be like if Tina came to my community. I like to have fun with my works, and so I paint the pop stars and celebrities that are famous for being great performers and having the best outfits.
I want my work to show a strong, positive message about life in a remote Indigenous community. We’re proud to live on our land and hold on to our culture and our language. I’m from the generation that grew up with Coca-Cola and TV, as well as Tjukurpa (cultural stories) and bush tucker, so I like to have a bit of fun with combining those two different worlds.
– Artist Statement.
Kaylene Whiskey lives on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the remote north-west of South Australia and works at Iwantja Arts, Indulkana. Whiskey’s paintings celebrate heroic power, pop culture and cultural knowledge as the blended reality that is contemporary life in a remote Indigenous community of Central Australia.
Her practice links the traditional culture of her community’s Elders with the experience of the younger generation, who have grown up with contemporary western influences like Coca Cola and Michael Jackson. Painted to a soundtrack of classic rock, pop and country music, Whiskey’s works are rich in imagination and irreverent humour.