Jump to content
Where our stories come alive
A bag of red ochre pieces (approximately 10) used in the painting 19220.127.116.11
The Tandanya collection no 3 consists of a Papunya Aboriginal women's ground painting on linen laminated onto plywood depicting Dreaming stories and celebrating the activities of Kungka Kutjarra (two women) at Kampurarrpa in the Ehrenberg Ranges, the Kuningka (Native cat) women and the Kungka Tjuta (Central Mount Wedge). The ground painting was created by seven Anmatyerre, Luritja, Pintupi and Warlpiri women from Papunya at Tandanya, Adelaide, and was especially commissioned to commemorate the opening of the National Aboriginal Cultural Institution (Tandanya), in 1989. The collection also contains a large variety of objects and raw materials associated with the production and performative aspects of the painting. These include ceremonial dance boards and dance sticks, ceremonial head ring, several pieces of wood, bamboo and yarn, thirty-four predominantly brown coloured ochres, white ochre and white ochre paint, and a grinding stone used to grind the ochres,
The legitimisation of Aboriginal paintings as contemporary artworks of distinctive aesthetic appeal and originality can be traced to the rise of the Papunya Tula art movement in the early 1970s which was shaped as much as a form of spiritual and cultural renewal as by a desire for economic independence. Early Papunya paintings tended to be small, but highly culturally significant works of art. Production of the first large canvasses began in 1975, primarily supported by the Aboriginal Arts Board, but also, during the 1980s and 1990s, in response to increasing demand by national collecting institutions and a small, but growing, number of national and international art dealers. Ground paintings draw on traditions of art in central desert communities, such as Papunya, and were traditionally created, or "sung" into existence, as important elements in ceremonial rituals. They are normally ephemeral creations and, ultimately, are destroyed during the course of ritual performance. Men's performances of ground painting accompanied the opening of exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne in the early 1980s and the opening of the Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia exhibition in New York in 1988. However, although the ritual life of women runs parallel and is complementary to the ceremonial life of men, art works which celebrated women's ceremonies and song cycles were underrepresented at this time and did not gain subsequent recognition till the 1990s. The Tandanya women's ground painting is therefore a rare example, not only of a women's ground painting of this early period, but also of a ground painting which has been captured on a permanent medium.