Monday, April 13, 2015

Manta means landscape in Pitjantjatjara.

A dirt road circles all around Ayers Rock, or Uluru as the Aborigines refer to it. Angangu are the traditional caretakers of Uluru and Kata Tjuta and the surrounding landscape. In this sketch Kata Tjuta can be seen in the distance shrowded in blue mist. Like Uluru it juts up from the otherwise flat landscape. It is far more eroded than Uluru having multiple spires. These two monoliths has always been a special place for the Angangu. It isn't only a rock, but it is a living place that creation beings have left their marks upon.

30 years ago Uluru was officially returned to aboriginal ownership. The ceremony, performed in the shadow of the immense rock, remains one of the most significant moments in the Aboriginal land-rights movement. Under the terms of the handover agreement, the Anangu people leased Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to the Australian Parks and Wildlife Service for 99 years, ensuring the public's ongoing access, as well as continued funds to the local community. In 2003 the Mititjulu Foundation was formed which raises funds for local Aboriginal communities. Guests at the Ayers Rock Resort can donate to this foundation and the resort matches contributions dollar for dollar. The projects funded include, renovations to a youth center, materials for local schools, a mountain bike program, sports and musical instruments and assistance for women's health screenings.

At this roadside overlook, an elevated trail brings tourists out to several viewing platforms.  As I did this watercolor, flies gathered on the pages to suck up the moisture. I worked quickly to keep from going insane from all the buzzing. A local joked with me saying that the Australian salute was the act of whisking away flies from your face. I had on a mesh over my head, and flies walked on it inches from my face. Had I sketched one it would have looked like a monstrous giant. I liked the reddish tint that dusted my hiking boots as we walked the trails around Uluru.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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