Since 1986 John Dallwitz has worked exclusively on Australian Aboriginal community heritage projects. In 1994 he was engaged by the Pitjantjatjara Council to work with Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people to develop the acclaimed Ara Irititja project. From 2008 to 2020 he was employed by the South Australian Museum as Manager of Ara Irititja. He continues to work on the archival project, to ensure that it is maintained for future generations of Anangu.
John was born in Adelaide in 1941. He studied architecture and art teaching in Adelaide, South Australia,1959-1964. 1958-1978 he conducted his private art, photography and design practice in Adelaide. He participated in many exhibitions across Australia, including solo painting exhibitions in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, 1961-1969. He co-produced the ground-breaking experimental theatre production ‘Sound and Image’ in Adelaide and Perth Festivals of Arts 1964-1968 and established the fabric and dress design business ‘Zoe’. He established and worked in environmental and heritage consultancy partnerships ‘Super Environment Studio’ and ‘Heritage Investigations’ 1974-1986.
In 2019-2020 his design and art achievements of the 1960s have been acknowledged by the Art Gallery of South Australia in ‘Adelaide Cool: The abstract art of David and John Dallwitz’.
His interview for Satellite Dreaming Revisited was recorded at the Ara Irititja offices in Adelaide, November 2011.
'The software had to do what they wanted, not the other way around' (interview with full transcript & links)
"…It's a Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra project…"
"…what we're looking at now is photo number one…"
"…they said ‘Well you better start looking for more things…"
"…the whole thing is designed so that we give them the framework…"
"…the software…has had to cater for the wishes of the Pitjantjatjara…"
"…you'll notice that …occasionally a comment, a little warning will come up…"
John Dallwitz and his colleagues have written many articles about Ara Irititja, including:
Never giving up: Negotiating, culture-making, and the infinity of the archive, (Sabra Thorner, Linda Rive, John Dallwitz, and Janet Inyika)
Ara Irititja and Ara Winki in the APY Lands: connecting archives to communities through mobile apps on portable devices (Dora Dallwitz, John Dallwitz and Susan Lowish)
Singing the Archive – presenting Ara Irititja (Rene Kulitja and Linda Rive with John Dallwitz and Susan Lowish)