Copyright Agency negotiate Ernabella and Kip&Co partnership for a new Indigenous collection collaboration

October 30, 2023

Australia’s oldest continuously running art centre, Ernabella Arts in Pukatja Community South Australia, has teamed up with one of the country’s most iconic homewares brands, Kip&Co, to design a homewares and clothing collection. The collaboration saw the Copyright Agency negotiate on behalf of the Ernabella artists to protect their moral rights and Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property through the licensing rights for the adaptation of their works.

Ernabella Arts is one of the most artistically diverse art centres in the country, and it is critical that the ancestral stories of the artists specific to the region and culture are protected. Copyright Agency was able to represent and negotiate on behalf of the artists to ensure they had a voice during the creation of the agreement that will see 50 per cent of the profits returned to the community.

The Copyright Agency is Australia’s national copyright licensing organisation for the publishing, media, surveying and visual arts industries, and now represents more than 13,000 Australian and New Zealand artists and 40,000 international artists through global partners.

Copyright Agency CEO Josephine Johnston says: “We are proud to have been entrusted with the responsibility of negotiating the licence for the use of Ernabella artists’ works by Kip&Co, who have demonstrated both in the past and with this last agreement a deep respect for artists and their stories.

“Both parties were committed to the collaboration, which has produced high-quality homewares and clothing apparel that doesn’t infringe on the rights of the artists. Rather, it showcases their work to the broader community. Best practice is when both parties are happy with an agreement, and we are proud that this is where we have landed with the agreement.”

This is Kip&Co’s second Indigenous arts collaboration. The first, Kip&Co x Bábbarra in 2020, was the brand’s fastest-selling range of all time.

“The incredible success of our Indigenous collaborations shows that consumer behaviour is changing, for the better! Customers are consciously choosing products that reflect their own social, environmental and ethical values – they are seeking an authentic connection. And there’s no better sense of story and purpose than in the art created by Ernabella Arts,” says Alex McCabe, co-founder of Kip & Co.

In the spirit of independence, adaptation, creativity and transformation, seven Ernabella artists have shared their ancestral stories through their artwork in this collaboration: Alison Lionel, Carlene Thompson, Langaliki Lewis, Lynette Lewis, Malpiya Davey, Michelle Lewis and Rupert Jack. The personality and history behind the stories told by the artists is evident in the colourful homewares and apparel range.

The Ernabella Arts has built a reputation on the adaptability and innovation of the artists who have been introduced to many different mediums since it began. Today its varied group of artists is a mix of young and old, men and women. The members of Ernabella Arts are always reinvigorating their centre, seeing it through its evolution from its first incarnation as a craft room into a culturally strong contemporary art centre. Starting with loom-woven fabrics and knotted floor rugs as well as batik, the artists have since become well-known for ceramics. The latest Kip & Co partnership has seen them turn full circle back to fabrics with this homewares and apparel range.

The Copyright Agency believes the negotiated agreement licence between Ernabella Arts and Kip & Co raises the benchmark for future licensing agreements.

Ms Johnston says, “This has been a respectful collaboration, where the artists and their stories have received fair compensation and attribution, and have been properly supported to ensure they have not been impacted through the production process. It has been a project of shared experiences and where both parties can be proud of the final and successful outcome. It is licence agreements like these that offer other art centres the confidence to explore commercial opportunities that recognise and protect the work of their artists and allows them to generate an income for their communities.”


Profiles of the Ernabella artists and their works:

Artist: Alison Lionel

Artwork: Likara (Bark)

Alison has been painting at Ernabella Arts since she was a young girl and she now has four children of her own. Alison’s painting Likara is inspired by the light catching the shifts and wandering lines of the bark.


Artist: Carlene Thompson

Artwork: Tjulpu Kulunypa

Carlene is a senior artist and senior woman in the Ernabella community. Her works are often about tjulpu tjuta (birds). People call her Tjulpu Thompson, and she says, “like I did with my children, I now raise chicks every day on canvas and in clay in my work”. Carlene’s painting Tjulpu Kulunypa – Baby Birds is an artwork about birds and their chicks.


Artwork: Klaya Ngura (Emu Country)

Kalaya Ngura – Emu Country is Carlene’s second artwork in the collaboration and depicts Carlene’s family’s country. The emu (kalaya) is the ancestral being who formed that part of the country as it travelled from Kanypi to Watarru in the Western Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.


Artist: Langaliki Lewis

Artwork: Tjala Tjukurpa (Honey Art Dreaming)

Langaliki is a highly skilled and creative painter and ceramicist. Langaliki’s painting Tjala Tjukurpa – Honey Ant Dreaming is of her father’s country. Tjala (honey ants) are a highly favoured food source and they are an important link between Anangu mythology and inter-dependence on the environment.


Artist: Lynette Lewis

Artwork: Wamikata Walka Tali (Sand Dune)

Lynette Lewis is one of Ernabella’s leading artists and works across many mediums including canvas, ceramics and silver jewellery. Lynette’s design Wamikata Walka Tali – Sand Dune is inspired by the ripples created by wind in the sand at the large red sand dune named Warnikata near Ernabella. Wamikata is a popular place for looking for maku (witchetty grubs) and also for teaching milpatjunanyi (telling stories in the sand) to children.


Artist: Malpiya Davey

Artwork: Kalaya Tjukurpa (Emu Dreaming)

Malpiya has been creating paintings, ceramics and prints at Ernabella Arts for more than 20 years. Her artwork Kalaya Tjukurpa – Emu Dreaming is Malpiya’s mother’s country near Kanypi on the APY Lands. The kalaya (emu) is the creation being that formed this land. Malpiya’s design is a depiction of the kalaya walking around looking for mai (food) and water in the rock holes.


Artist: Michelle Lewis

Artwork: Tjala Dreaming (Honey Ant)

Michelle is a rising star of the Ernabella Arts studio. Michelle’s painting Tjala Dreaming – Honey Ant depicts how the tjala (honey ants) tunnel though the sandy soil. Women dig up the tjala and then suck the delicious rich, honey-like liquid from their distended abdomen.


Artist: Rupert Jack

Artwork: Ngayuku Ngura (My Country)

Mr Jack is a senior artist and the community pastor. He divides his time between his homeland, a place named Racecourse, and Ernabella. Mr Jack’s painting Ngayuku Ngura – My Country is of his father’s country. It’s a sacred place for men only near Mimili. The different colours and designs represent variations in the landscape. He is also depicting looking for bush tucker such as maku (witchetty grub).


About Ernabella Arts

Established in 1948, Ernabella Arts is Australia’s oldest, continuously running Indigenous Art Centre. Ernabella Arts is in Pukatja Community, at the eastern end of the Musgrave Ranges in the far north west of South Australia.

Pukatja was the first permanent settlement on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands). The Presbyterian Board of Missions established the mission in 1937, and a craft room was established in 1948. The first craft products were hand-loomed woven fabrics and hand-pulled and knotted floor rugs with a unique pattern that became known as ‘the Ernabella walka’ or anapalayaku walka (Ernabella’s design).

In recent years, long after commencing working as artists, senior women decided to leave behind the walka of the early days and to depict their Tjukurpa (sacred stories of country and law). The centre’s inimitable reputation lies in the adaptability and innovation of the artists who have been introduced to many different mediums since the craft room began. Today its varied group of artists is a mix of young and old, men and women. The members of Ernabella Arts are always reinvigorating their centre, seeing it through its evolution from the first incarnation as a craft room, into a culturally strong contemporary art centre.

Ernabella Arts is an Aboriginal owned and run corporation which promotes and supports ethical practice in the creation and sale of Indigenous art.

About Kip&Co

Launched in Melbourne in 2012, Kip&Co was founded by sisters Kate Heppell and Hayley Pannekoecke and best buddy Alex McCabe. What started as a bright, colourful bedding brand, quickly expanded into a vibrant lifestyle concept with a cult following, as the girls brought their fun and stylish aesthetic to apparel and homewares for every corner of the home, and every member of the family. Now with a global following, Kip&Co continues to be inspired by the girls’ simple passion for joy, laughter and the colour of life.

About the Copyright Agency

The Copyright Agency is an Australian not-for-profit organisation that represents 40,000 members across the publishing, media, visual arts and education sectors. Our mission is to provide simple ways for people to reproduce, store and share words, images and other creative content, in return for fair payment to creators. Membership is free.


>Kip&Co x Ernabella Arts Homewares Collaboration.
Likara © Alison Lionel, Tjulpu Kulunypa © Carlene Thompson, Kalaya Ngura © Carlene Thompson, Tjala Tjukurpa © Langaliki Lewis, Wamikata Walka Tali © Lynette Lewis, Kalaya Tjukurpa © Malpiya Davey, Tjala Dreaming © Michelle Lewis, Ngayuku Ngura © Rupert Jack/Copyright Agency, 2023.
Photographs courtesy of Kip&Co.