Walala Tjapaltjarri is a Pintupi man who was born in the early 1960s
at Marua, east of Kiwirrkurra in the Gibson Desert. He is married
to a Warlpiri woman and travels between his homeland of Kiwirrkura
and his wife's country of Yuendumu and Alice Springs. As well as the
acrylic paintings for which he is now internationally famous, Walala
has collaborated with members of the Campfire Group in Brisbane to
produce a series of unusual steel sculptures.
|In 1984 Walala arrived with his family at Kiwirrkura
after walking out of the Gibson Desert, where they had been leading
the traditional life of the nomadic Pintupi in the region near
Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay).
This was their first contact with European society. Their emergence
from the desert, in a region which was thought no longer to have any
traditional owners still living a nomadic way of life, caused great
national and international interest.
Walala started painting two years later producing classic Tingari
images. He was introduced to painting by his brother Warlimpirrnga,
also a well known artist. In a short time however he developed his
own distinctive style and imagery to depict country and ceremony.
The subject of his work is the Tingari Cycle which are secret song
cycles sacred to initiated men. The Tingari are Dreamtime Beings who
travelled across the landscape performing ceremonies to create and
shape the country associated with Dreaming sites. The Tingari ancestors
gathered at these sites for Maliera (initiation) ceremonies. The sites
take the form of, and are located at, significant rockholes, sand
hills, sacred mountains and water soakages in the Gibson Desert. These
Dreaming sites and songs are depicted in the traditional ochre colours
of the desert.
By 1996 his painting his style had evolved to the works he continues
to paint, characterised by rectangular shapes with surrounding dots
and a limited palette of up to four colours.
He first started exhibiting his work in 1997 (in the 14th National
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin) and he has
been involved with a number of group exhibitions since, as well as
having several solo shows. His paintings are represented in private
and public collections in Australia, Europe and the USA.
Source: based on "Walala Tjapaltjarri and Campfire
Group - Sculptures from the Tingari cycle" Fire-Works Gallery