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Papunya Painting: Out of the Desert

WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Papunya Painting: Out of the Desert showcased the Museum's extraordinary collection of Western Desert art. These works have rarely been seen in Australia. Papunya Painting made its debut in Canberra from 28 November 2007 to 3 February 2008.

About the art and the artists

Honey Ant Hunt, 1975, by Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri.
Honey Ant Hunt, Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri.

In the 1970s and early 1980s Central and Western Desert artists at Papunya, in Australia's Northern Territory, created a body of work that transformed understandings of Aboriginal art. On large canvases and suitcase-sized boards they experimented with colour and style to tell their Dreaming stories linked to land, history and culture.

Honey Ant Hunt by artist Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri relates to one of the Dreaming stories you can explore in Papunya Painting. Tim Leura created this work in 1975 using synthetic polymer paint on canvas. It measures 1.9 x 1.7 metres. The three hills at Papunya form an important Dreaming site, representing the body of a huge ancestral Honey Ant. It was here the Honey Ants returned to the ground after travelling during the Dreaming. Tjapaltjarri's painting gives a soft symmetry to the Honey Ant chambers and passages.

Explore more about the exhibition


A NOTE ON SPELLING: With minor exceptions, the spelling of Aboriginal words used in this website follows the Pintupi/Luritja Dictionary, 3rd edition, by KC & LE Hansen, published by the Institute for Aboriginal Development, Alice Springs, 1992. The titles of paintings are those recorded by the art advisers who documented the works at the time they were purchased. Alternative spellings have been provided (in brackets) which are consistent with current usage within Central Australian Aboriginal communities.


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