Sarrita King

A Fusion of Past, Present and Future

ABORIGINAL_Sarrita King Darwin high res image Saville Coble

Sarrita King is an exciting second-generation Aboriginal artist who brilliantly fuses the past, present and future of her culture through her painting.  She was born into an accomplished family of artists. Her older sister is noted artist Tarisse King and her father is the late William King Jungala who is a highly collected Aboriginal artist.

King’s ancestors are from the Gurindji tribe from the Northern Territory who became noted for their courage when 200 of them walked off their jobs as stockmen and servants at Wave Hill Cattle Station in 1966.  The Gurindji Strike, as it became known, led to a landmark case which paved the way for more land rights claims by Aborigines. In 1975 the tribe was granted freehold title to almost all of Wave Hill Cattle Station, their tribal land.

It is this strong sense of self and pride that Sarrita embodies and it is the connection to her tribal land fuels her drive to paint.

Sarrita spent most of her youth growing up in Darwin in the Northern Territory and the inspiration for her art in without doubt the amazing environment she grew up in, not far from where her ancestors lived.  She felt a strong connection to her Aboriginality and her love of the land was nurtured.  The extreme weather and the landscape provided her with thematic tools to explore in her art.

Rolling sand hills, scorching heat, strong lightning, big storms, and arid desert are all scathing environmental factors that shaped her forefather’s lives and also her own. She creates fantastic energy on the canvas but there is also a strong rhythm in all her work that is determined and controlled.

Stylistically, she utilizes traditional Aboriginal techniques such as ‘dotting’ but also incorporates unorthodox techniques inherited from her late father, as well as her own distinctive style.  She represents the next generation of artists who have been influenced by both their indigenous history, and current Western upbringing.

What are your goals as an artist?

My goal is to share the story. Many of my artworks are my father’s stories and inspiration. He was so passionate about sharing them with the world. Since his passing I strive every day to put more artworks out in the world for people to share the stories with their friends and family and continue my father’s legacy.

My goal is also to raise the recognition of younger artists who are bridging their aboriginal culture and the new world we now live in through art.

Do you recall the first time you held a paintbrush?

I actually can’t remember starting to paint. Being an artist was something I did not set out to do, but I loved to spend time with my father in his studio. His passion for his creations was contagious and I soon found myself engulfed and overcome by the same passion. I sometimes see some of my early artworks in people’s homes or collections and it brings back memories of painting side-by-side with my father and sister. They hold a very special place in my heart.

What do you ‘carry’ from your Aboriginal DNA?

Pride.  I have been enriched by my Aboriginality through my connection to the land and to people.. I am proud of my heritage from both sides of my family. I am lucky to have the benefits of both Aboriginal and Western worlds, I choose to express the beauty of my culture and my landscape and share it will all those seeking connection.

How do you describe your style of painting?

My style is my own. I use my father’s teaching of layering and texture to create depth in a piece. He was always intrigued by the micro/macro of a work and being able to appreciate the artwork as a whole while also appreciating the small details that create the artwork. I love to use different colors and reflect on the movement of the natural world.

What inspires you more than anything?

I am constantly inspired by the world around me. That is why it is so important for me to be out looking at and enjoying the country and the beautiful landscapes of Australia. Darwin, my hometown, is a constant source of inspiration with its mix of different people, the lush tropics, and the diverse weather. There is nothing better than being home.

Text by ELLEN georgiou
Photograph by Saville Coble

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