By Vivien Johnson
Part artwork historical past, half detective tale, this gripping insider’s account of the Papunya artwork movementwhich was once founded round the 1,000 small, painted panels created on the distant northern territory Aboriginal payment of Papunya in the course of 1971 and 1972goes past a trifling dialogue of the astronomical public sale costs within the overdue Nineteen Nineties that first drew many people’s realization to those items. Celebrating Australian paintings historical past, this research explores the history of the artists themselves in addition to restoring the forums’ historic and cultural importance because the first inscriptions of the spiritual ideals and sacred visible language of the Western barren region peoples. It also seems to be on the controversies that surrounded the work on the time in their construction, the position of instructor Geoffrey Bardon, the depiction of sacred imagery, what they suggest to the artists’ descendants, and the far away worlds of paintings auctions and foreign exhibitionstelling the bigger tale of Aboriginal paintings in Australia and beyond.
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Extra info for Once Upon a Time in Papunya
According to Johnny Warangkula’s son Mike, his father often hung out with Clifford Possum, Tim Leura and Kaapa in a tent they had pitched on the lee side of Warumpi Hill some distance from the settlement. Perhaps it was here the idea was hatched. According to Geoffrey Bardon’s account, the Pintupi farmworkers had been coming to his flat after work since April, and Billy Stockman and Long Jack Phillipus began painting The School of Kaapa 27 behind a barricade of desks at the back of his classroom after the mural project, but it was not until September that Kaapa joined them there.
Finely painted wallaby or kangaroo tracks coming in from the top and bottom corners weave symmetrical paths around the inside of the U-shapes. Delicate red spirals are placed symmetrically around the central vertical axis. The markings on the ceremonial poles are apparently the tracks of a lizard and its dragging tail. The painting seems to represent an episode in the Warlugulong story Kaapa inherited from his father, possibly the ritual kindling of the great bushfire which engulfed the ancestral Lizard Man’s sons.
But Batterbee was out of town when Bardon called in with the paintings, so he took that very first shipment down to Iris Harvey, who ran a large stationery supply shop which also sold art materials. The fate of the paintings Bardon left with Iris Harvey is not known: none acquired from this source have come to light to give her name a place in the history of the early Papunya boards. In this account, therefore, the first consignment of paintings to Pat Hogan’s Stuart Art Centre is taken to represent the first works by Bardon’s group of painting men to come on the market in Alice Springs.
Once Upon a Time in Papunya by Vivien Johnson