Papunya Tula Artists

Papunya Tula Artists
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
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This clip from Aboriginal Video Magazine (1986) shows two renowned Western Desert artists, George Bush Tjangala and Don Tjungurrayi.

The Western Desert art movement has become one of Australia’s most recognisable art forms. 

Paintings were traditonally created on the ground using sand, coloured stones, feathers and plants but, in 1971, school teacher Geoffrey Bardon encouraged some of the men to paint a blank school wall using acrylic paints.

This created great interest in the community and led to the formation of the Papunya Tula Artists Cooperative in 1972. Since then, members of the community have been painting traditional designs using acrylic paints on boards and canvas which have been exhibited and collected internationally. 

In this clip, shots of an Indigenous art gallery located on a colourful, busy urban street are starkly contrasted with the dry, sparse, brown palette of the open desert area where the paintings of the Papunya Tula artists are created. A straightforward explanatory voice-over introduces the artists, their traditional style, subject matter and materials used.

We learn that some of their paintings have featured in art shows and won prizes. This information, combined with images of the artists at work in their remote setting, conveys a real sense of achievement when you consider how the artists have managed to bridge the divide between their traditional culture and the commercial art world.