Maxine Stuart Australian, Yankunytjatjara, b. 1968
"I was born not far from Finke community, my mothers country was Indulkana and my fathers was finke. I grew up between these two places, I am a Yankunytjatjara woman. We never had a house growing up, we lived traditionally in hand built wiltja's (shelters) that my family would make from sticks and scrub. Near to Finke is a place called Dalhousie, it is famous for its hot springs for swimming in. We would go there a lot as kids, I like to think about this place when I make my paintings. The area is full of saltbush tree's and secret swimming spots, I like to paint with warm colours, warm like the water in the hot springs."
Maxine was born at New Crown Station, not far from the Finke community. Her mother’s country is Indulkana, and her fathers is Finke. Maxine spent her childhood growing up between these two communities, and occasionally living near to various cattle stations as her father would get work as a station hand and musterer.
Maxine had an older brother Yanke and a younger brother Geoffry. Growing up, the children and their parents never had a house, they built wiltja’s (hand made shelters) wherever they travelled. At Indulkana they lived on the banks of the Indulkana creek close to family and friends who were settling at the community.
Maxine was taught at the community school, which was also a large wiltja, run by local women such as Betty Muffler, Angkuna Baker, and Nellie Coulthard. These women all paint together side by side now at Iwantja Arts. Maxine learnt very good English by playing with children of the station masters who lived at the cattle stations at the same time she was there.
While painting, Maxine says that she thinks about her time at Indulkana and Finke, and particularly about her time at the nearby Dalhousie – famous with visitors today for its rich flora and natural hot springs. Maxine says “I like to paint the soakages and rockholes. When I paint I think about the times I spent with family at Dalhousie, swimming at the hot springs. The water is very warm – like a big bath. We would swim all day and eat the tasty dates from the trees in the evening. There is a lot of salt bush in the area too. My paintings use colour and design to show the water sources – rockhloes and soakages – of my Country.”