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Papunya art and communityKintore (Walungurru) Community and Papunya Tula Artists


Kintore (Walungurru) is a small community located 530 kilometres west of Alice Springs at the foot of the culturally important hills Pulikatjara (meaning two hills). The population varies according to cultural activities and numbers vary from 250 to 500 people, averaging around 350. The community was established in 1981 when the Pintubi people moved back to their traditional country from Papunya.

Papunya was where the Central and Western Desert Art Movement began in 1971 at the local school when senior male artists started painting on boards using polymer paint. In 1972 the artists established their own company, Papunya Tula Artists. For more information about the origins of the Western Desert Art Movement, go to the essay on Papunya Tula art and artists.

The outstation movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s encouraged many of the Papunya artists to move back to their traditional country - for many this was as far west as Kintore and Kiwirkurra (700 kilometres west of Alice Springs). Papunya Tula Artists became the cooperative for mainly Pintupi and Luritja artists working in communities west of Papunya. For examples of contemporary work by Kintore artists see our Papunya Tula paintings.

Aboriginal people have lived in the central and western deserts for many thousands of years. Archaeological research has established that the desert regions were first occupied and used at broadly similar times to other ecological zones of the continent. For example, the Puritjarra shelter in the Cleland Hills, 350 km west of Alice Springs, was used as an itinerant camp site as early as 35000 years BP.

The area was first explored by non-Aboriginal people in 1889 by Tietkins, who named the ranges after the then Governor of South Australia.  It is believed that Harold Lasseter prospected in the area but these is not proof if this. 

No other European exploration occurred in the area until the late 1950s and early 1960s when Len Beadell made the roads of the Central Desert region in support of the activities at Woomera Rocket Range. 

For Aboriginal people, "the major dynamic was the incremental emptying of of the deserts as the inhabitants migrated into pastoral stations and ration depots on the frontier, coupled with the attempt of colonial authorities to stem this flow of people. The Pintupi exodus from the desert from 1930 to the early 1960s - and their return in the 1980s has been well documented." (M. A. Smith in "Peopling the Cleland Hills", 2005).

Kintore community was established in 1981 when the Pintubi and others moved back to their traditional country. Kintore has a strong ceremonial life and its residents are known for their determination in returning to their lands and for their initiative in raising funds for a renal dialysis machine.


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