vivonne thwaites



beverley peacock


Beverley Peacock with her swag 'the correct way'


Marita Baker and Beverley Peacock


Beverley Peacock - Co-ordinator, Kaltjiti Arts, Fregon, South Australia

When did we arrive?

We arrived in January 1990 during two weeks of relentless 40degree heat and wondered how we were going to survive. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

Why we came?

David (my husband) came to a job in Fregon. We were keen to change our lifestyle and get out of the city and back into the bush. David had previously worked in community development in Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa for ten years. We had spent 3 years in the Gold Coast hinterland before relocating to Fregon.

I spent the first 6 months becoming familiar with the place and organising distance education for our five children – that is another story.

I started working part time in the art centre in July 1990 and the anangu women agreed that I took over full time in 1991 as the then coordinator could not continue. It was not possible to advertise for someone else as there was no house to accommodate anyone on their own, the salary was not attractive so it was a position that needed filling. I was in a fortunate

position in that my husband was in a job with a house. Staff housing in a community is still an issue twenty years later.
Music was my art-form - piano teaching to be specific. As well as art skills, the art centre job also required administrative and organisational skills which I found to be a strong point. The anangu artists were very patient and I learnt on the job.

Why have we stayed? Like all places, there are difficulties that one has to manage and these occur but we have managed to survive through the ups and downs probably because Anangu gave us their support. It has become home. It is beautiful country. The art is a creative environment and the opportunity for community members to experience personal development, economic returns, participate in cultural maintenance and management development through the arts is extremely rewarding to part of. To be involved with the high level of creativity that is natural for anangu artists has been hugely uplifting and enjoyable.

Close relationships evolved out of work situations. Inawinytji Williamson was the first chairperson I worked with and this partnership continued for nearly fifteen years.. Most significantly was the joint effort carried out to initiate the start of the regional arts organisation – Ananguku Arts & Culture Aboriginal Corporation (AA&CAC). Looking back, I reckon we made a good team . Perhaps an apt description of our relationship was reconciliation working at grass roots. Acknowledgement and respect should be given to the artists for their awareness to access expertise they don’t have for the benefit of their art centre and their willingness to employ outsiders to achieve this. From Inawinytji and the other ladies I came to understand the importance of consultation with elders and that when Anangu want something to happen it happens. If not, no one turns up. They are very mindful of not hurting a person’s feelings. Expertise Inawinytji didn’t have, was my job to source -providing information on a range of art industry issues, dealing with government organisations and financial management to name a few.

It is not possible to do my job without the support of a good malpa (colleague, friend). Marita Baker took over from Inawinytji in 2006 and shows the same leadership qualities. The elder women chose well when she was picked to be the chairperson.

Getting to know the women best happens out-bush, though. The occasional trip out-bush, and especially those bush trips we did as research for the Kaltjiti Arts book, were valuable experience s and an opportunity to really gets to know the ladies and realise how skilled they are in the bush environment. Not a very practised camper, I was made very aware of my shortcomings when I put my swag with my head facing the fire. Iwana Ken said in language which Diana James translated. "A woman with many tall sons should know better where to put her swag" – If you put it lengthwise, the heat reached more of you and therefore you were much warmer. As it was freezing cold, my swag soon got turned around. Very obvious stuff!

Staff Housing

There is no money for staff housing. I am not sure where one has to go for housing money. Unless you are part of a department such as education, health, police, there is no housing department as such. AA&CAC are looking into this issue as a regional infrastructure project. It is good to see Housing SA putting funds into Anangu housing in a big way at last.

Work as a lifelong commitment

Maybe it is turning out that way. Long term and consistent staffing seems to have a beneficial impact on a community. By the end of three years in a job you probably start to know what you are doing and relationships are just formed. It is all about relationships. Longer time frames to support services have a greater chance of succeeding

In the heat here, I don’t know how people lived without air-conditioning in the summer. Now all the houses have air-conditioning. The challenge is making sure they work at the crucial times and finding the air-conditioning contractors when you need them.

How do I see things progressing from here? I really don’t know EXACTLY except that the general feeling is positive in the art centre. Art is ongoing and creativity is endless so one goes with the flow. Opportunities come up all the time and to do lists get turned upside down most days. Constant change is the order of the day. One makes plans and then life happens.



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