Aboriginal Art

Thomas Tjapaltjarri

Thomas Tjapaltjarri
Thomas Tjapaltjarri was born in the Gibson Desert near Lake Mackay and east of Kiwirkurra c.1964. Thomas Tjapaltjarri was a member of a small group of nine Pintupi people who made international headlines when they walked out of the desert in 1984 due to severe drought.
There have been two recent news publications featuring the Pintupi Group and you can read the BBC article here and the Australian article here . Until 1984 they had allowed no contact with Europeans and led a traditional nomadic lifestyle. Thomas Tjapaltjarri’s two elder brothers, Walimpiringa and Walala Tjapaltjarri are both acclaimed artists as are some of his older female relatives, Yalti and Yurkultji.

Before 1984, the Pintupi Nine lived just as their ancestors had done. Waterholes in this area are often 40km (25 miles) apart or more, and every day was spent walking in the relentless heat from one to another. “Sometimes there was no water, so we would hunt for goanna,” says Yukultji. The blood of these monitor lizards provided vital moisture when a water soak was dry.

The subject of his paintings relates to the ‘Tingari ancestors’, the sacred sites, and water soakages in the Gibson Desert so important to these ancestors and his people.


Images of Pintupi 9 from The Australian (News publication)

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