Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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    Pantiji Mary McLean at Nalda Searles home, 2002, courtesy of Nalda Searles.
    Details

Exhibitions

  • Karlkurla Gold: A History of the Women of Kalgoorlie-Boulder

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McLean, Pantjiti Mary (c. 1930 - )

Born
c. 1930
Kaltukutjarra, Docker River, Western Australia
Occupation
Artist

Details

Pantjiti Mary McLean is a Ngaatjatjarra woman from the Western Desert region who grew up leading a traditional life. In the 1950s she left the desert, walking to the Warburton Ranges with her husband and son, and then on to Cosmo Newbury in the Eastern Goldfields. When her son was taken by the government and placed in the Mount Margaret Mission, she followed and worked in the area as a stock woman mustering sheep. During this time a daughter was born and was also taken from her.

In c.1970 she moved to the Kalgoorlie Native Reserve, and then c.1980 to the Ninga Mia Community in Kalgoorlie, where she lived as a respected elder until 2008. She then moved into Kunkurangkalpa Aged Care.

During the 1980s Mary produced craftworks and traditional paintings, but a breakthrough came when she participated in the Warta Kutju (Wama Wanti) Street Art Project and met fibre artist Nalda Searles who became her friend and collaborator in 1992. Mary preferred painting and developed a unique figurative style of her own that captured her memories and stories. A sell-out exhibition of her work in Fremantle in 1993 launched her career. Commissions came her way and her work was exhibited around Australia.

Mary has won many art awards, including the prestigious Telstra Indigenous Award in 1995. In 2001 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Curtin University. Her work is represented in all major public and many private collections around Australia.

Sources used to compile this entry: Criena Fitzgerald and National Foundation for Australian Women, Karlkurla Gold: A History of the Women of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Australian Women's Archives Project, December 2012, http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/wikb/wikb-home.html; Mclean, Pantjiti Mary, Pantjiti Mary McLean. A Big Story: Paintings and Drawings, Potter, Rosie; Searles, Nalda May and Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute Tandanya, Adelaide, South Australia, 1992-2005; Taylor, Robyn, Honouring Creative Women in Western Australia, Pantjiti Mary McLean, unpublished manuscript.

Digital resources

Title
Mary Pantiji McLean and Nalda Searles - friendship and responsibilities
Type
Interview
Source
Criena Fitzgerald

Details

Title
Pantjiti Mary McLean (sat down) and Nalda Searles
Type
Image
Date
c. 1990
Source
Nalda Searles

Details

Title
Pantiji Mary McLean
Type
Image
Date
c. 1990
Source
Nalda Searles

Details

Title
Pantiji Mary McLean at Nalda Searles home
Type
Image
Date
2002
Source
Nalda Searles

Details

Nalda Searles

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124