Australia 1933 – 2011
Australia 1929 – 2007
Jamirlangu [Husband and Wife]
Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Set amidst the verdant Kimberley landscape, in this work Jukuna Mona Chuguna and Pijaju PeterSkipper embroider an enduring love story that emerged from their first encounter at the waterhole known as Wayampajarti Jila. The painting’s title, Jamirlangu, means ‘husband and wife’. Yoking together their individual styles with their shared memories, the painting evokes the joy of young love, the sweetness of its recollection and the beautiful affinity forged from a lifetime of togetherness.
The artists avow a love of country, a love of painting and a love for one another. Skipper’s half of the painting demonstrates his spare, unfussy style in which trees, hills and waterways are outlined in solid colour and finessed with keenly observed detailing. In contrast, Chuguna’s side is an essay in abundance in which a rich palette and dense figuration predominate. A single row of footprints leading from the off-centre Japingka waterhole represents Skipper searching for a wife in the Great Sandy Desert. His journey led him to Wayampajarti Jila, where Chuguna was living with her family. Their burgeoning relationship is illustrated by the two sets of footprints that become tenderly entwined and then amble into the distance.
Together they worked on Cherrabun Station, translated the Bible into language and created a Walmajarri–English dictionary. Similarly, their continued commitment to one another was celebrated with this, the first of their collaborative paintings. Chuguna once said ‘painting brings my country up closer, true, it brings it closer to me’. Imbued with the memory of their true love, this work immortalises their closeness.
 Mangkaja Arts, This is my country, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency, Fitzroy Crossing, 1994, unpaginated.
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