Language/Country: Pitjantjatjara/Amata, APY Lands, SA. Born: Pukatja (Ernabella - APY Lands)
Yaritji Young was born in 1954 in remote bushland around Pukatja in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) of South Australia. Little is known of her early life with her parents Mick Wikilyire and Paniny Mick, but she attended school in Amata it was here she first learned basket weaving, her earliest creative form.
Later, Yaritji worked with Tjanpi Desert Weavers as a textile artist and her style evolved to intricate and often humorous subjects. She has woven things such as small trucks and camp utensils but her best known and sought after textile works are large low rimmed baskets which she decorated with emu feathers.
Yaritji now lives at Rocket Bore, a homeland north of Amata to the north of South Australia. She is a significant artist and as a senior law woman is committed to fostering law and culture, and this forms a core part of her artistic practice.
Many of Yaritji's paintings are drawn from the Tjala (Honey Ant) Dreaming of which she is a traditional owner. Her paintings incorporate the rock holes and landmarks of her country, entwined with icons and traditional marks that relate to inma (dance) and tjukurpa (dreaming). The colourful, twisted lines weaving the landmarks together, represent the tunnels made by the honey ants.
Yaritji is the eldest of the five sisters with whom she often works collaboratively and the “Ken Sisters Collaborative” as they are known - Tjungkara Ken, Yaritji Young, Freda Brady, Maringka Tunkin and Sandra Ken - won the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2016 for their spectacular collaborative painting titled: 'Seven Sisters Tjukurrpa'. The Ken Sisters Collective also won the the Adelaide Biennale commission in 2018.
As an individual artist, Yaritji is considered established and highly successful. Her first solo exhibition was ‘Laina - Family Lines', at the Alcaston Gallery in 2017; this was followed by two more significant and sold-out solo exhibitions in 2018 and 2019 respectively. In addition to the accolades received for her collaborative work, Yaritji has been named a finalist in the Wynne Prize for her solo practice in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021 and in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA’s) numerous times - 2004, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023.
- Art Gallery of New South Wales.
- Art Gallery of South Australia.
- Queensland Art Gallery