Yuendumu paintings are well known for their bright colours and complex,
interwoven patterns. The Yuendumu
community lies 280 kilometres north west of Alice Springs
along the red, dusty Tanami Track and has approximately 1000 mainly
Warlpiri speaking residents.
The community played a significant role in the emergence of the Western Desert painting movement through the establishment of the Yuendumu Men's Museum in the 1960s and its opening in 1971.
The modern Yuendumu painting movement began in the early 1980s following
the distribution of art materials by Francoise Dussart and Meredith
Morris who had been working in the community recording women's
body painting designs.
The early success of the women painters encouraged several
senior male elders to paint their ceremonial designs, previously
made only on bodies or in sand paintings. Their first works
were on the doors of the Yuendumu
school. They could see that the children needed to be kept
in touch with their cultural heritage so they painted the dreaming
stories, the Jukurrpa, on the doors of the school.
This was the beginning of the art movement at Yuendumu. By 1985 the
Warlukurlangu Artists Association was formed to support and
market the works of hundreds of artists painting in the community.
Since then the Association has grown, and the community is
now recognised as one of the most active and important centres
in desert art. Yuendumu artists have taken part in more than
1000 exhibitions in galleries in Australia and overseas.
Brief biographical details of many of the artists are available
on the Yuendumu biographies page.
Yuendumu is the largest community in Central Australia, apart from Alice Springs. The Community Government area covers over 22000 square kilometres and Traditional Owners control the land as part of self-determination with support from various Government Departments. Entry Permits are required by visitors intending to stay overnight or longer.
The community was established by the Native Affairs Branch in 1946 for the purpose of rationing and welfare. A Baptist Mission was established in the following year and by 1955 many local Walpiri groups were settled in Yuendumu. There are also a large number of Outstations surrounding Yuendumu.