Arrernte and Western Arrarnta
Marlene was born in Mparntwe/Alice Springs in 1961, and grew up at Amoonguna community, east of Alice Springs where she went to school.
Rubuntja is the daughter of Wenten Rubuntja the well-known painter and activist. It was her father who fought for the rights of people to settle Town Camps in Alice Springs. In the 1970s, her family, the Rubuntjas, along with the Ebatarinjas and the Lynches were the original families to settle Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp. Rubuntja has been here ever since, and she is proud to call this place home.
Rubuntja learnt to sew at Yirara College, Mparntwe/Alice Springs, however she only began making soft sculptures at Yarrenyty Arltere in 2009. She says she draws inspiration for her soft sculptures and her works on paper from what she sees around her in her daily life at Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp: “Some things are good for people and other things make people really mad.” She also draws inspiration from her father’s country and from her husband’s country at Wave Hill. Rubuntja is interested in telling proudly the stories of her people; her art is helping her to do this.
Rubuntja is a proud spokeswoman for Yarrenyty Arltere and is happy to tell people how important it is in her life in helping her stay strong and healthy. Rubuntja has worked on the films made through the Yarrenyty Arltere Art Centre, either as a writer, artist, cultural advisor and/or on screen. She has twice officially opened the Desert Mob Exhibition in Alice Springs and in 2017 and 2020 she was one of three judges for the Portrait of a Senior Territorian Art Award.
In 2016, Rubuntja was the overall winner for the inaugural Vincent Lingiari Art Award Alice Springs with her self-portrait titled, My Future is in my Hands. In 2020 Rubuntja was the winner of the Lofty Awards, which celebrates an artist who has shown dedication and passion for maintaining a high standard of arts practice that builds the cultural voice of Central Australia. Rubuntja is also the president of the Yarrenyty Arltere Housing Association and sits on the Board of Directors for Tangentyere Council.
Image credit: Marlene Rubuntja holding an echidna she stitched. Photo courtesy of Yarrenyty Arltere Artists
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