At the time of its installation in 1995, Yerrakartarta was the largest public commission of Aboriginal artwork in Australia. The work’s title derives from the Kaurna word yirrakartarta, meaning ‘at random’ or ‘without design’.
A variety of sculptural forms rise from the red-brick forecourt and adorn the surrounding walls. Together, the designs ‘tell a story built upon other stories’, most notably the stories of two Kaurna ancestors, Tjilbruke and Ngurunderi.
Multi-media artist and developer of this project, Darryl Pfitzner Milika, engaged local Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri artist Muriel van der Byl. The large ceramic murals present Van der Byl’s artistic interpretations of the stories of Kaurna ancestors. Ceramic artists Jo Crawford and Jo Fraser assembled the hundreds of individually-fired tiles.
In reflection of its title, the work makes reference to the seemingly random order of the natural world. Yerrakartarta is a celebration and re-affirmation of the cultural and spiritual connection of the Kaurna people to country: Natta atto nanga; yakko atto bukki naki, Kaurna yerta (“I know it now. Before I didn’t. This is Kaurna country”). Milika described the outcome of this collaborative work as ‘alchemic’.
The installation took 18 months to complete and used the facilities of South Australia’s renowned Jam Factory.