Many Hands paintings feature at Desert Mob

·2-min read

Artist Selma Nounay-Coulthard has been painting at the Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) art centre in Alice Springs since the 1970s.

Now aged 68, with 14 grandchildren and more on the way, her watercolours are a way to share her dreaming and the culture passed down from her father and grandmothers.

"I'm trying to keep fit because most of life is for painting because that's what keeps me going," she told AAP.

Nounay-Coulthard is one of 200 artists whose works are on display at Alice Springs' Desert Mob art show which opened Thursday.

She began visiting the Many Hands centre in the 1970s and decades later it is where she still paints.

"That is the safe place for all of us. We do whatever we like, share our knowledge or the culture of ways or talk problems and things like that, which helps most times."

There are more than 30 Aboriginal art centres in the Central Desert region and they are integral to the region's art movement and its communities.

Nounay-Coulthard is the first artist in her family: her mother was a kitchen hand and her father a stockman.

But when a high school painting of hers was featured in a geography textbook in the 1960s, she was inspired.

"I thought I might try it again next time," she laughed.

Although her paintings come from the renowned tradition of Albert Namatjira, she said she has developed her own style.

Her paintings show the Tempe Downs area where her family would travel by camel in the 1960s.

She believes her sacred lands have recently revived thanks to floods after a dry time, with her people returning to their sacred areas.

"It hits you and makes you real happy ... finding new things like seeing animals for the first time you know, after they have been hidden away," her artist profile states.

Desert Mob is on at Araluen Art Centre from September 8 till October 23.