Tjukurrtjanu TjukurrtjanuTjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art

NGV NGVNGV: 150 years Museum VictoriaMuseum Victoria Papanya Tula ArtistsPapanya Tula Artists

  • An NGV Touring Exhibition
  • 30 September 2011 – 12 February 2012
  • The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia,
  • Federation Square, Melbourne
  • 9 October 2012 – 20 January 2013
  • Musée du quai Branly, Paris

Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art examines a watershed moment in the history of art when a painting practice emerged at Papunya in Central Australia. Tjukurrtjanu gives prominence to 200 of the first paintings produced at Papunya between 1971 and 1972 and also establishes the vital connection between the works of art and their sources in ephemeral designs made for use in ceremony.

A collaboration between the NGV and Museum Victoria.
In partnership with Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd.

This website contains the names, images and works of Indigenous people who have passed away, which may cause distress to some Indigenous people.

Indigenous people from Central Australia and the Western Desert are advised that this exhibition contains culturally sensitive works that may be considered harmful or inappropriate for viewing by women or uninitiated members of their communities. Care has been taken to respect cultural protocols and, following a comprehensive consultation process, these works will be exhibited separately for the duration of the exhibition and will not be illustrated in the exhibition catalogue or displayed on this website.

Please note that some records contain terms and annotations that reflect the period in which the item was recorded, and may be considered inappropriate today in some circumstances.

Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri (Anmatyerr born c. 1927)

Billy Stockman was an infant survivor of the 1928 Coniston Massacre. His mother and a brother were shot by Constable Murray's revenge party: 'All the people were running. I was a little one in a coolamon. My mother put me under a bush… They killed my mother.' (Vivien Johnson, 2008)

Billy Stockman was born at Ilpitirri near Mt Dennison, north-west of Yuendumu, the year before the Coniston Massacre savaged his family. He was rescued as an infant and raised by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri's parents and grew up on Napperby Station, where as his name clearly states, he worked as a stockman. In about 1955 he moved to Haasts Bluff where he married a daughter of Uta Uta Tjangala's brother.

Like Kaapa Tjampitjinpa and Clifford Possum, Billy Stockman was a wood carver before he became a leading figure in the first few years of the painting movement. Together with Kaapa, Long Jack Phillipus and others, he participated in the painting of the Honey Ant Mural and he was one of the most enthusiastic artists in the Men's Painting Room. He painted Yam, Wallaby, Budgerigar, Spider, Rainbow and Water Dreamings and was one of the first to begin painting large-scale canvases.

Billy Stockman served as chairman of Papunya Tula Artists from 1976–1977 and as a member of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council from 1975–1979. He represented Papunya Tula Artists on several international cultural exchange projects and also travelled to New York in 1988 for the opening of Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia. He has now retired from painting and lives at Hetti Perkins Home for the Aged in Alice Springs.

Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri 1972
Anmatyerr born c.1927
Photo © Allan Scott


  • EXHI015492
    Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri
    Anmatyerr born c.1927
    Untitled 1971-72
    synthetic polymer paint on composition board
    117.0 x 33.5 cm
    Australian Museum, Sydney
    Purchased, 1983 (E079146)

    © artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists
  • EXHI015668
    Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri
    Anmatyerr born c.1927
    Yala (Wild Potato) Dreaming 1971
    synthetic polymer paint on composition board
    54.5 x 46.0 cm
    Collection of Eva and Robert Shaye, USA
    © artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd

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