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.


Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri (Anmatyerr c. 1929–1984)

Tim Leura grew to manhood in a cross-cultural world where both Anmatyerr law and pastoral occupation prevailed in uneasy tension. At out-of-the-way Malierra ceremonies, performed for his cohort of novices, Leura absorbed designs and songs associated with the network of songlines that passed though his country. At the same time, he learned horsemanship and cattle wrangling at nearby stock camps. (John Kean, 2011)

Tim Leura was born in a creek bed at Laramba on Napperby Station, a few years earlier than Clifford Possum. The two boys grew up together as brothers, although they had different biological parents. Their mothers were sisters, and they shared grandparents and a rich cultural inheritance. Together they would become leading instigators and brilliant exponents of Papunya Tula art.

As a young man Tim Leura worked as a stockman on Narwietooma Station, becoming familiar with the network of songlines that passed though his country. Here he married Daisy Leura Nakamarra, whom he later encouraged to paint independently, and developed prowess as a carver of weapons and of lifelike representations of reptiles.

Tim Leura moved with his wife and young family to Papunya as part of the construction team. His association with the Honey Ant Dreaming gave him agency at Papunya, even though his country lay to the north. Apart from the converging Dreaming trails of the Honey Ant, he also depicted Possum, Yam, Fire, Blue-tongue Lizard, Sun, Moon, and Morning Star Dreamings. A left-hander, Tim Leura's paintings are distinguished by his delicate touch, subdued palette and layered subtlety of dotting and wash.

By the mid 1970s he was a member of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council. His Spirit Dreaming through Napperby country 1980, painted collaboratively with Clifford Possum, is often cited as one of the great paintings of the movement and has been the centrepiece of many major exhibitions, beginning with Perspecta 1981 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

ARTS002131
Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri 1972
Anmatyerr c.1929-84
Photo © Allan Scott

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