Meet the Marking the Infinite Artists: Carlene West

In this series, we introduce the nine artists behind Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia, on view at The Phillips Collection June 2–September 9, 2018.

Installation view of works by Carlene West in Marking the Infinite. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

Born c. 1944, Tjitjiti, Western Australia
Lives and works in Tjuntjunjtara, Western Australia

Carlene West was born in the sand hills on the western edge of Tjitjiti, a vast salt lake in Spinifex country. In 1959, West and her family left the desert to escape the British government’s nuclear testing at Maralinga, moving to a mission at Cundeelee. With her husband, Fred Grant, she was influential in the Spinifex people’s push to return to country and reclaim their Native Title from the state; the Spinifex people returned to live in Tjuntjuntjara in the 1980s, and in 2009 were able to relocate through the bush back to Tjitjiti. West began painting in 1997, and her acclaimed later works have been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and the British Museum, London.

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