Lajamanu is a Warlpiri community located in country of the Gurindji people about 600 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs.
Lajamanu, formerly known as Hooker Creek, was established by the Native Affairs Branch of the Federal Government in the late 1940s, when 25 Warlpiri people were trucked there from Yuendumu. In 1951 a further 150 Warlpiri were trucked there from Yuendumu against their will.
Unable to live away from their Dreaming sites and close kin the people all walked back to Yuendumu, a distance of approximately 400 kilometres. Two further resettlements and Aboriginal walkbacks occurred, in 1958 and 1968, before Warlpiri residents were prepared to accept the new community of Hooker Creek as their home.
The Lajamanu elders overcame their reluctance and disquiet about painting for the art market and in November 1985 gave their consent for men and women to participate in a Traditional Art Course conducted by art teacher John Quinn in 1986. Closely parallelling the Yuendumu Doors, the first Lajamanu paintings produced as part of the course rely on bold colour and form rather than modulated tones and tessellations. Rough and unpractised, they are painted in shiny enamel paints on uneven, recycled boards with crooked edges, stripped from derelict housing.
The following year, Lajamanu artists began to work on canvas, sometimes needing to resort to irregularly shaped tarpaulins, initially working without the support of an effective, government-funded art centre. Fortunately, the Warlpiri owned and operated Warnayaka Art Centre has been operating in Lajamanu community since 2007. This has led to an artistic resurgence in the community, as indicated by the excellent achievements of Lajamanu artists in the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards since that time.