“He had a very distinct style straight away,” says Mel George, who until recently was the manager of Ernabella Arts, and worked closely with Carroll and the JamFactory on the new exhibition. “Some makers you have to really push, and some people just get it. He just had it. He did very subtle work that is compositionally beautiful, and his mark-making was unique.”
From there, Carroll’s career and profile grew. He was shortlisted for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards for four years running, and his work, both solo and collaborative, is held in national and international collections.
In 2017, along with fellow Ernabella artist Derek Jungarrayi Thompson and curator Luke Scholes, Carroll returned to Kintore and Kiwirrkura for the first time since his adolescence. Connecting with senior Pintupi men to learn more about his heritage, the landscapes and their natural features, became a prominent source of artistic inspiration. “He was interested in telling stories of his family’s Country,” says George. “In some ways, he thought about these places and thought like this all of his life, but hadn’t necessarily translated them into a visual form.”
Carroll’s influence on his community was shown not only in his artistic output, but through his leadership and vision—he brought more of the younger generation into Ernabella Arts, and encouraged more young men to join what has historically been a largely female-led craft discipline. “He was an inherent leader, he was loved and adored by everyone in that community,” George says.
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