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June 30, 2021

Kaylene TV is free-to-air desert pop art coming to North Terrace

Cultural icons and colourful critters from the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands will soon be projected on North Terrace, allowing a look through the vivid viewfinder of Indigenous artist Kaylene Whiskey.

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  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Image 1: Kaylene Whiskey. Credit: Meg Hansen courtesy of Iwantja Arts
  • Image 2: 'APY Sistas' (2020). Credit: Kaylene Whiskey courtesy of the artist and Iwantja Arts
  • Image 3: 'Strong Kungkas' (2019). Credit: Kaylene Whiskey courtesy of the artist and Iwantja Arts

From 16 July, Adelaide’s buildings, streets and laneways will be draped and decorated in over 40 projections and immersive works as part of Illuminate Adelaide’s City Lights takeover.

APY Land’s Kaylene Whiskey is one of the most exciting artists exhibiting as part of the bill, and will have her playful work projected on the biggest of screens: the façade of the Institute Building on North Terrace.

Titled Kaylene TV, the work will offer a snapshot of the pop-culture-infused world of the award-winning artist, with animation and editing help from Jackson Lee.


Kaylene TV
6pm ’til 11pm Fri, 16 July — Sun, 1 August
Institute Building
North Terrace, Adelaide 5000
More info

Showing as part of Illuminate Adelaide’s City Lights.

We first saw Kaylene’s paintings exhibited as part of Tarnanthi in 2019, and became enamoured with the cute and clever mashups of modern media figures and regional Aṉangu life.

She is the granddaughter of lauded artist Tjukangku Whiskey and lives in South Australia’s Indulkana community while working at visual arts centre Iwantja Arts.

Kaylene paints iconic characters, spanning nationally treasured animals, such as koalas, to people who accentuated her childhood, such as divas Dolly Parton and Cher.

The result is a collection of brilliant, carefree paintings that give insight into how Kaylene grew up as a child, and how she now sees and enjoys the world.

Below, she explains to CityMag how this work came to be.


CM: Kaylene, when did you realise art was important to you?
KW: I’ve always loved making paintings, my grandfather Whiskey Tjukangku was a famous painter at the art centre here in Indulkana, Iwantja Arts. I always loved watching my family paint in the art centre, and that’s where I work now.

It’s a really busy place and everyone is painting their own way. I feel good when I’m painting and it makes me really happy when I can share the work with other people and make them laugh or smile!

How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it before?
My paintings are fun and happy – I make my own little world on the canvas. I hope they make people smile. I like to put all the strong ladies in my work, so sometimes you see Cher, Dolly [Parton], Tina Turner and lots of others having fun at a party, or dancing, or out bush hunting for malu (kangaroo) or finding minkulpa (local native tobacco plant).

My generation grew up in two worlds, with Aṉangu culture and also with pop culture. So it’s always been a combination of both things for me.
— Kaylene Whiskey

‘I Love the Flag’ (2019) by Kaylene Whiskey courtesy of the artist and Iwantja Arts


What inspires you to make art?
I really love painting about my life here at Indulkana. I paint what makes me and my friends and family happy. Whenever anyone sees my paintings they start to feel good. So the paintings have to be about good times – listening to music, dancing at parties, and sharing love and happiness with family and friends.


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Tell me about the moment you were drawn into the world of pop culture and why it resonated with you?
My generation grew up in two worlds, with Aṉangu culture and also with pop culture. So it’s always been a combination of both things for me. I really like listening to Tina Turner and I really like going out bush, digging for tjala (honey ants) – they’re both a part of my life in the same way.

You’re exhibiting for Illuminate Adelaide. Have you ever had your art projected on buildings before?
Oh, I’m so excited about Illuminate Adelaide! I love seeing my paintings come to life, all the characters dancing and having fun together.

Earlier this year my work was projected on the Sydney Opera House sails as a part of Badu Gili – Wonder Women, so I’m lighting up all over Australia this year.

Will you be down in Adelaide for the Illuminate Adelaide festival?
I love Adelaide, and yes I’m planning to be there for Illuminate.

Is there anything you want to add?
Stay healthy and warm this winter everyone! Love you, from Kaylene.

Kaylene Whiskey in the Iwantja Arts studio. This picture: Meg Hansen, courtesy of Iwantja Arts


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