Cynthia Burke


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Artist Biography

Cynthia Burke is an artist belonging to the Ngaanyatjarra language and cultural group. She was born in Alice Springs in 1973. She attended CAPS High school in Coolgardie, WA and went on to Esperance Senior High school. Cynthia now spends her time between Warakurna and Irrunytju Communities in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands of Western Australia.

Cynthia is a keen artist whose creative and arts practice covers a broad range of disciplines. Cynthia was taught weaving skills by her mother, the renowned artist Jean Burke. In 2013 Cynthia contributed weaving and media skills to the Tjilkamarta Minyma Kutjarra Munu Wati Ngirntaka Warta (Two Porcupine Wives and Perentie Man Tree) exhibited in the ‘String Theory’ exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. In 2012 she exhibited fibre art at ‘Fingers and Petals’ exhibition, Ellenbrook Gallery in Perth and regularly makes Tjanpi works presented in shops and galleries throughout Australia.

Cynthia also paints for Warakurna Artists, makes punu (wood sculpture) for Maruku Arts and works for Ngaanyatjarra Media as a camera operator and  radio announcer presenting a weekly radio program of local music and news. CB, as the locals affectionately know her, plays a selection of country and gospel music ranging from the 1950’s to 2000’s. Cynthia’s gospel music program ‘Praise’ is broadcast weekly in Ngaanyatjarra language from the Warakurna Community.

Cynthia’s talents also include film and camera operation and she has worked on a number of films. In 2013 Cynthia won the radio broadcasting award at the 15th National Remote Indigenous Media Festival Awards for Best Emerging Radio Talent NG Media and in 2011 Cynthia won the Festival Troy Albert Award for Excellence in cinematography for works presented on ICTV, the Indigenous Community Television station of Australia.

Warakurna is a remote Aboriginal Community, located at the western end of the Yurliya Ranges (Rawlinson Ranges).  It is situated just within the Western Australian border and is 1700 km north east of Perth. Warakurna is home to 200 Yarnangu (Ngaanyatjarra people) who are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this region. Yarnangu have lived, travelled across and raised their families in the Yurliya area for time-immemorial.

Yarnangu’s first European contact in the area first occurred in the 1930’s with the establishment of the nearby Warburton Mission, followed by the construction of the Giles Weather station for the Blue Steak missile research project in the 1950’s. Warakurna Community was incorporated in 1976 and many families who had moved or been placed in nearby missions of Kaltukatjara (Docker River), Warburton and Areyonga due to Weapons Research testing in the 1950’s returned to the area.

Warakurna is now a friendly and dynamic community which is home to Tjanpi Desert Weavers remote Western Australian office. From here, field officers rove out to eight Ngaanyatjarra communities to visit Tjanpi artists and collect their baskets and sculptures, provide materials and tools and conduct skills and creative development workshops.