Meet Corban Williams (Martu, Manyjilyjarra), one of our newest Collaborating artists and the creative talent behind the stunning new Kaalpa range from our Naidoc 2020 collection. We recently had the pleasure of chatting to Corban and getting to know a little more about his story, his family and his inspiration.
Tell us about a little about your cultural background...
I was born in Newman hospital. Mum, Dad, Nanna and Pop lived in Jigalong before, but they moved into town before I was born. I’m one of seven children. I grew up in Newman- this is my home. I like to travel but I worry about home.
My Nanna and Pop used to take us out hunting for bush tucker. I’d help them make a fire and tea. Me and Pop would go out to the swamp area between Newman and Kumarina. Nan, Pop, Mum and Dad would tell funny stories about our family and make me laugh.
“Kaalpa is my two grandfather’s ngurra (home). My two grandfathers, they were pujiman (traditional desert dwelling) in Kaalpa, where they walked around hunting bush tucker. They were there hunting, getting meat.
I went there for the first time in 2018 on a Martumili trip to Wantlili Claypan. The KJ (Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa) rangers were going to visit Kaalpa and asked “We going Kaalpa, you wanna come?”
The oldies said “Go see your grandfather’s Country” - they showed me that well (Well 23 on the Canning Stock Route). It’s got kapi (water) there, a well, jurnu (soak) and tuwa (sandhills). When we been in Kaalpa they [elders] said “this is your Country, this is your home. This one here is yours and your little sister’s [Tamisha Williams] home, this is your two’s grandfather’s Country”. I went hunting there, got a parnajalpa (sand goanna). We were looking for bilbys- we couldn’t find any. We got minyarra (bush onion) there too.
When I went there, I was pukurlpa (happy). It made you open up your spirit- feels like home.
When did you start creating art?
When I was little, I first came to Martumili, I saw people painting and Gabe (Gabrielle Sullivan, previous manager at Martumili Artists) got me a small canvas to try. One day when I was at Fortescue festival I saw all the oldies there and their paintings, I was looking around, looking around and seeing what I liked, this and that, this and that, and I was thinking - I want to be a painter when I grow up. At school in Newman and in Punmu I liked to paint.
I painted a lot with my nana Jakayu [Biljabu] and little bit I got her style of painting, into my painting.
First, when you have a brush in your hand it’s like I see it in my mind, the sandhills, waterholes. I picture it in my head and I am back there.”
Why did you decide to collaborate with Life Apparel?
It makes me feel right - happy to see my painting on there. The clothes, they are looking like my canvas! People will be wearing the clothes, here Newman, East Coast, everywhere. And they’ll be asking, "Who did that painting?" That’s my Country, My grandfathers and my Nanna’s Country.
Who would you like to see wearing your artwork?
Me, I’ll be wearing them! And Martumili mob. All my family and friends, in Parnpajinya, across Martu Country, friends in Punmu. And city mob too! It’ll make me feel proud and happy.
You can read more about Corban and shop his full range of apparel here.