Ivy Laidlaw Australian, Ngaanyatjarra, b. c1945
Ivy Laidlaw, a Ngaanyatjarra artist, was born around 1945 at a rock hole called Walpapulka (Mt. Aloysius) near Irrunytju. Her mother was crippled when Ivy was a young girl and unable to care for her, so Ivy and her sister spent much of their early childhood at the mission at Warburton to the west of her traditional homeland. Ivy's mother was also cared for by the mission at Old Well. Ivy spent some me at school and learnt English, hymns and Bible stories. She has very fond memories of her childhood and Mr Nash who she describes an a "good man". While living at the mission Ivy's job was to milk the goats. She would get up early each morning and get milk for all the kids.
She frequently went back to her country with her extended family where she learnt the Tjukurpa and how to survive in the desert. When she grew up Ivy worked in the mission bakery and clinic. She met her first husband at the mission school, Henry Laidlaw. She was his younger second wife. Traditionally it was not uncommon for desert men to have 2 or 3 wives. On his death Ivy moved to Blackstone. This is also a traditional cultural practice; to move to a new place when someone passes. Blackstone was a camp of wiltja's (makeshi shelters) with no real infrastructure. There was no clinic, the only medical service was when Sister Baker (Margaret Hewi ) would visit from Docker River. Ivy's sister was epileptic and needed medical assistance at times which inspired Ivy to lobby for medical services and a clinic in the community.
Later Ivy moved to Irrunytju where she married Patju Presley. Ivy was a founding member of Irrunytju Arts and is a highly regarded sculptor, weaver and storyteller. As well as developing her own art practice and participating in exhibitions, Ivy worked at Irrunytju Arts supporting the cultural development program and bush trips. Ivy ran workshops and taught emerging artists how to weave, where to find organic material; and how to make dyes, resins and traditional medicines. Some of Ivy's paintings depict important Tjukurpa relating to women's business which are carefully stored and only taken out to teach the young women. Other's illustrate dramatic Tjukurpa narratives, structed like fables with strong moral overtones.