John Tjakamarra (Pintupi c. 1937–2002)

John was one of the three most silent of all of the Pintupi men I have ever known. Most of his talking was by hand-signs or a pointing of the chin, the latter a conventional way of indicating direction shared by all older generations of Aboriginal peoples of the Western Desert. He spoke but a few words for the entire day [on our journey to his country], yet he was vitally interested and animated the whole time. (Dick Kimber, 2011)

John Tjakamarra was born in country west of Tjukurla and travelled widely across the region southwest of Kaakurutintjinya (Lake Macdonald) until his early manhood, when he first encountered Europeans. In 1963 he travelled to Papunya by means of a Weapons Research Establishment patrol, which assisted a number of Pintupi people as they attempted the long walk from Dovers Hills in Western Australia.

At Papunya, John Tjakamarra worked as a farmhand and made a number of pencil drawings on Geoffrey Bardon's verandah in 1971, before joining others in the Men's Painting Room. His early paintings are of finely delineated Tingarri compositions finished in a filigree of fine dotting.

In 1981, together with 300 fellow Pintupi, John Tjakamarra moved back to Walungurru where he continued to paint for another decade.

During the early 1990s, he settled in Tjukurla, closer to his birthplace, which curtailed his painting.

ARTS002099
John Tjakamarra
Pintupi c.1937-2002
Photo © John Corker

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