Keith Stevens (b. 1940) is a Pitjantjatjara artist born in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the far north of South Australia at Granite Downs cattle station. He is a respected senior man in traditional law and a strong community leader who comes from a strong artistic family. Following in his parents’ footsteps he was mustering at an early age and had no schooling until moving to Pukatja (Ernabella) as a young boy where he attended the mission school1. Stevens’ family would travel for weekends to their traditional homelands of Piltati and Iwarrawarra, eventually moving to Piltati Creek at what is now the Nyapari Community where he still lives, and works at the smallest APY art centre, Tjungu Palya.
Nyapari Tjukurpa by Stevens features a painterly depiction of the sacred Songlines embedded within the Piltati Creek site his Nyapari community calls home. The work initiates a visual map of the terrain at Piltati, the location of a major ancestral narrative – the Wanampi Tjukurpa (Rainbow Snake Ancestral Men Dreaming)2. Stevens’ layered depiction of Country traces the sinuous and serpentine landforms of his homelands3. is fine variations of ashy detail and tone – ranging from deep to light purple with creamy highlights – accentuate the earth’s expansive geographies through a veil that imbues the surface with a pulse, indicating the full range of ancestral and human activity occurring at both a minute and monumental scale.
- Tjungu Palya, “Keith Stevens,” accessed February 4, 2021, https://tjungu.com/artist/keith-stevens/.51 Vivien Anderson Gallery, “Keith Stevens,” accessed February 4, 2021, https://www.vivienandersongallery.com /exhibitions/view-exhibition/105.
- Keith Stevens: Piltati, exhibition catalogue, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne, 2020.