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National Museum of Australia

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4

Snake and tree carving, made by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, 1973

2005.0078.0001

Snake and tree carving, made by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, 1973

Object information

Physical description

A painted wooden carving of a snake entwined around a tree trunk. The wood is light in weight and the carving has been made from one piece. The snake is carved with the head at the top, and is painted in a dark grey with an overlay of black spots, with white dots for eyes and nostrils. The yellow-brown tree trunk has a branch junction near the base and branches into two at the top. It also has some dark brown coloured knots and short stubs of branches.

Statement of significance

The collection comprises a carved wooden snake and tree made of softwood and synthetic paint. The sculpture was made by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri at Glen Helen Lodge in c1973.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri became one of the most celebrated members of the Papunya Tula group. His paintings are widely represented in major public collections in Australia and overseas. His carving are a lesser known part of his art. The carved wooden snake demonstrates his ability to capture naturalistic scenes depicting motion. The decade in which the carving was produced saw the genesis of the Papunya Tula painting movement, where painting replaced carving as the mainstay of the Aboriginal arts industry. The work therefore represents a critical turning point in the history of Indigenous art.

Object information

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