Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art
Early Western Desert Paintings 1971-1974 gallery See nearby items (accurate to +/- 12 hrs)


Luritja/Warlpiri peoples

Kalipinya, near Kintore, Northern Territory, Australia born 1932

Kalipinypa water Dreaming [Kalipinypa water dreaming] c.1972 Description: from the R G Kimber collection of 15 early Papunya paintings
Place made: Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on composition board

Dimensions: 90 h x 61 w cm framed (overall) 90 h x 61 w x 5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1989
Accession No: NGA 89.1929.2
Image rights: © the estate of the artist licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd
  • Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarrais one of the last surviving founding members of the original group of painters at Papunya in 1971. He was one of the artists to paint the murals on the Papunya school walls, which proved to be the catalyst for the painting movement that became known as the Western Desert style of painting. Tjakamarra lived a traditional lifestyle out in the bush west of Mount Farewell prior to moving first to Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff) then to the Papunya settlement. He was nicknamed ‘Long Jack’ because of his unusual tallness and, like many men in the local community, he worked as a stockman, gardener, timber cutter and artist. Although he became a Lutheran pastor in 1984, he continues to be an important ceremonial figure and to maintain his traditional cultural practices.

    Kalipinypa is a major Rain or Water Dreaming site north of Walungurru (Kintore) and is one of the main sites painted by Long Jack and a number of other Papunya artists (including Walter Tjampitjinpa and Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, in particular). The two paintings here are indicative of the early stages of the Papunya movement, with their tightly restricted palettes and bold graphic designs that refer to body decorations and ceremonial ground paintings.

    In Water course Tjakamarra alludes to the different levels of rain intensity during the wet season through the strong wavy lines, each with a tri-colour banding of white, black and khaki green. Waterholes of red concentric circles each have their own black line separating the varying concentration of white dots to one side and white bands of hatching on the other. The designs flow across the painting’s surface as water flows across the land.

    Kalipinypa Water Dreaming tells of a significant rain-making ceremony to produce thunderstorms. It features the conventional ground painting design for Water or Rain Dreamings­: the set of three clusters of roundels joined by parallel meanders running vertically down the picture. Tjakamarra’s delicate palette of musk pink and red, which relates to ceremonial paint, lends this work a visual subtlety. Kalipinypa is an electrifying storm site bringing lightning and thunderous downpours. The much-needed rains fill interconnecting creeks and rockholes. This abundant water in turn transforms the countryside, creating new growth across the lands and ensuring the ongoing cycle of life. The water, flowing from rockhole to rockhole, creates an essential resource for survival.

    Tina Baum

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010