Free shipping within Australia on all orders

Mangkaja Arts


Mangkaja Arts is a thriving, Aboriginal-owned and governed art centre based in the township of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Established in 1981, the art centre evolved from modest beginnings as an arm of Karrayili Adult Education Centre, a community initiative set up for local people who wanted to learn English.

The art centre takes its name from the Walmajarri word ‘mangkaja’ – a  wet weather shelter traditionally made from spinifex erected by the Walmajarri people of the Great Sandy Desert prior to settler contact. Today, Mangkaja Arts embodies that term, providing a haven for artists to meet, talk and paint both important esoteric and personal stories.

     Above: Dorothy Forrest at work in the studio.
     Slider: inside Mangkaja art centre. All images by Bo Wong
     Top right: Kurtal by Tommy May
     Footer image: The troopy

The original art centre was a concrete and tin structure with no windows, built with the assistance of a small capital grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. Known fondly as the ‘5O cent house’, with its six-sided shape resembling the polygonal 5O cent coin, it was situated perilously close to the highway just past Fitzroy Crossing’s main thoroughfare. Despite its limited resources, the original artists painted fervently, and travellers bargained directly with them to purchase works.

Today, Mangkaja Arts has become the epicentre of Fitzroy Crossing, functioning as a fine art gallery, specialty store, and studio space for artists to continue painting the iconic images of Country embedded with essential stories of culture and identity. Mangkaja Arts represents artists across five language groups – Bunuba, Gooniyandi and Nyikina of martuwarra (river country) and Walmajarri and Wangkajunga from the jilji (sand hill country) of the Great Sandy Desert.

In addition to providing a space for artistic practice and development, Mangkaja Arts runs a significant cultural program, returning artists and their families to important sites on Country to maintain connection to their heritage and ensure the continuity of their cultural practices.

Many of the artists are also members of the Karrayili Adult Education Council, with skills developed through this involvement helping the Mangkaja Arts committee to operate more effectively. In this way, Mangkaja Arts serves to support the intersecting cultural, financial, and educational needs of the community, existing as a vital hub to facilitate the livelihood and wellbeing of the language groups it represents.

A riot of colour

While stylistically diverse, Mangkaja artists are collectively known for their dynamic aesthetic and lively use of colour. Working across a variety of mediums including canvas, board, paper, animal hide, and woodcarving, Mangkaja artists are well known for their ground-breaking works in acrylic on plexiglass. These iconic plexiglass works pioneered by artists such as Ngarralja Tommy May, Annette Lormada and Rosie Tarku King are marked by their contemporary palettes featuring neon, acid and candy hues, disinhibited brush strokes and the uncanny visual effect of shimmering with both vivid saturation and translucency.

Mangkaja Arts has an extensive national and international exhibition history, with many artists represented in the collections of each of the state galleries, the National Gallery of Australia and significant private and public collections around the world.