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Kuru Ala by Sallyanne Roberts


Kuru Ala by Sallyanne Roberts

Object information


This painting is by emerging Pitjantjatjara artist Sallyanne Roberts. It depicts Kuru Ala, a significant site on the Seven Sisters songline. The work was made at the Tjungu Palya Artists (Nyapari, South Australia) in 2012. This songline extends south-eastwards from a site near Parnngurr rock hole to Kalypa (Well 23) on the Canning Stock Route, and then north-east to Pangkapini, after which it leaves Martu county. As the women continue their journey from Parnngurr, Wati Nyiru is always nearby, lurking at waterholes where
the sisters hope to rest, spying on them as they dance, wash, sleep and gather food, awaiting his chance to catch one of them.

The Seven Sisters story is embedded in a land alive with songlines and is an archetypal parable that has universal application --- it operates like a morality play that considers good and evil and the human condition. The story thus has contemporary relevance to land management and environmental issues.

The Western Desert version of this story tells of a cheeky man, Wati Nyiru, who chases the sisters all over the country. He is a clever man with transformative powers, a shape shifter and a generative source of life in the animal, plant and human world.

"When the songline reaches the Ngaanyatjarra Lands, the tone darkens and the actions of Wati Nyiru become more sinister. His obsession with the eldest sister is the major theme, and the paintings acquired relating to the Seven Sisters focus on several key events ? the capture of the eldest sister, the cooking and eating of kuniya, (the carpet snake, which is a manifestation of the shape-shifter), and the transformation of the sisters into stars.
On the Ngaanyatjarra Lands, people are connected to sites through their kinship to the Ancestral characters who inhabit the narrative. The rituals of dance and song ? inma ? enact the universal meanings of the Tjukurrpa. The Seven Sisters drama unfolds along two songlines in this section. As you journey along the Kuru Ala songline to the south and Wanarn to the north. the paintings function as portals to place."
(Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters, NMA Press, 2017, p119)

Carrying on the tradition of her grandmother the late Wingu Tingima, Sallyanne paints Kuru Ala, a significant site of the Seven Sisters Tjukurpa.

At Kuru Ala, Wati Nyiru attempted to trick the sisters by turning into a quandong tree and a carpet snake. In this painting the sisters are hiding in a cave. Wati Nyiru watches as the sisters dance in the night, leaving their dancing tracks in the sand. The long lines and shapes are the dancing tracks; the small red and white shapes are sacred women's places.

"We learned this story from my grandmother Wingu Tingima. There are lots of waterholes in this country and the sisters are travelling around gathering food. There is a dangerous man, Wati Nyiru, watching them. You can see the sisters hiding in their cave, and the one man. All the sisters are dancing." Sallyanne Roberts, 2012

Physical description

An acrylic dot painting on linen canvas. At the top centre there is a red, blue and white concentric circle design with four smaller concentric circles to the right side of it. Vertically to the right side there are thirty seven concentric circles that are red and blue and surrounded with white dots, there is then five larger circles to the right side that are connected vertically with dotted lines. Across the bottom are four circles, each with various shapes and lines inside them, above that are twenty vertical lines followed by four white circles connected with white horizontal dotted lines. Featured in the centre left side of the painting are three red, blue and white circles connected with the same coloured dots which are then surrounded by seven circles. Horizontally above that are three circles that are also connected with horizontal lines, followed by two red, blue and white larger circles above that. The two circles are connected with red, blue and white horizontal lines in the middle and four sets of blue and white lines attached to each circle on the other side of it. The background has patches of green, blue and red dots. There is a white painted border and handwritten inscriptions on the bottom outer edge of the canvas which reads 'Sallyanne Roberts # 12408 Tjungu Palya 2012'.

Object information

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