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Anmatyerre/Warlpiri/Arrernte peoples

Australia 1926 /1930 – 1989

Bushfire Dreaming [Bushfire Dreaming (No.13)] 1972
Collection Title: The Peter Fannin Collection of Early Western Desert Paintings
Place made: Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer powder paint on composition board

Dimensions: 48.0 h x 41.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: The Peter Fannin Collection of Early Western Desert Paintings, 1998
Accession No: NGA 98.102

Kaapa Mbitjana Tjampitjinpa was born and raised along with his cousins Tim Leura and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri at Napperby Station, north-west of Alice Springs, where he worked primarily as a stockman until moving to the settlement of Papunya in the early 1960s. Here he experimented with watercolours, painting in the manner of the Hermannsburg watercolourists such as Albert Namatjira (who was a distant relative), before the arrival of Geoffrey Bardon and the beginning of the acrylic painting movement. Tjampitjinpa was the principal artist on the Papunya school murals and became the first chairman of the Papunya Tula Artists cooperative in 1972.

Tjampitjinpa was the son of Long Jack Tjangala, whose custodial country and birthplace was Warlukurlangu, the location and story that inspired Tjampitjinpa’s Bushfire Dreaming. It relates to the Fire Dreaming place west of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory, where Tjampitjinpa shows white smoke rising from a central ceremonial area to each corner of the work. The U-shapes above and below the central roundel or ground painting represent seated figures, their bodies formally painted for ceremony. Beside them are boards decorated in designs of rain or water in meanders and bars representing clouds. The ground of the painting is composed of sections of hatched body decorations alternating with depictions of ancestral campsites joined by travelling lines.

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