The Lionel family – Tjukurpa titutjura kunpu ngaranytjaku (Keeping our tjukurpa strong forever)
We are the Lionel family. We are a family of strong women and strong artists. Our grandmother is a very senior woman named Pantjiti Lionel. She was born in her father’s country east of Kanpi. She moved into the Ernabella Mission when she was a young girl.
Pantjiti says about the early years in Ernabella:
“When the family moved to Ernabella mission I was not yet a kungkawara (adolescent girl). After school hours I would go to the craft room. It was a small shed then. I did not learn weaving but was spinning wool on the outside while other relatives were dying it. I also knitted jumpers. I did not paint on canvas, but made floor rugs with colourful patterns. During that time we were all living in shelters (wiltja) made from spinifex (tjanpi) and shifted camp regularly in a circle around the mission compound. Our homes were very clean. Amata, Fregon, Finke, Mimili and Indulkana did not exist then but there was Alice Springs, Areyonga and Haasts Bluff where rations were handed out. After my brief work experience in the hospital, I began to cook large meals, the rations, in the mission kitchen. The present art centre is an expansion of that building.'
(Translated from Pitjantjatjara)
Our mother is Yurpiya Lionel. She was born at Donald Well’s near Kenmore Park and not too far from Ernabella. She has been painting at the art centre since 2004, more than a decade. More recently my sister Alison and I joined the art centre. We started with painting and also sometimes work with ceramics and tjanpi. We are sharing our own stories. I paint stories and messages that come to me when I am asleep dreaming. We learnt from our kami (grandmother) Pantjiti. When one day my grandmother and later my mother passes away we will carry on. We will follow in their footsteps and keep telling stories of country. My kami (grandmother) and ngunytju (mother) are good strong women who work hard to keep their tjukurpa alive in their hearts. The next generation is our daughters; my girls are Vennita, Dreshelle and Ethel and Alison’s girls are Jermima and Annie. They are the next generation of Lionel women. They will follow on after us and show their own children. With each new generation there is a new beginning. This is Anangu way and how we pass down and keep our culture strong and live good lives. The future for our family is a bright one.
Rachael Mipantjiti Lionel