Australia 1919 /1923 – 1999
[Stars, kangaroos and caves (No.36)] 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 paint on composition board
Charlie Tararu Tjungurrayi was born at Tjitururrnga, a rocky hill west of the present-day settlement of Walungurru (Kintore) in the Northern Territory. In the 1930s Tjungurrayi and his family were among the first to move to the Lutheran Mission at Hermannsburg where, year after year, he continued to take supplies back by camel to his people who still lived in the bush. Eventually Tjungurrayi moved to the settlement of Papunya, where he was to become one of the original founding painters of Papunya Tula Artists. It was Tjungurrayi who, in 1972, suggested the name ‘Papunya Tula’ for the artists’ cooperative.
Kangaroo Dreaming relates to a trail that passes within the vicinity of Balgo Mission in the Tanami Desert, then continues southerly through to the Warburton Ranges. All of these sites are well within Western Australia. The central section of the trail is west of Walungurru and the painting relates to the different sites in this area. It features the track of the ancestral Kangaroo, indicated by part of its footprint, the V-shape. The ancestor’s journey is marked by the series of roundels representing campfires joined by straight travelling lines, while the double U-shapes indicate people, and the large arcs are caves. This is a night scene, and the stars sparkle across the painting’s surface.
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