Born in a remote area of desert, far from contact with non-Indigenous Australians, Freddy West was a young man when his family was brought to Papunya by a government welfare agency in the 1960s. He began painting in the early years of the Papunya Tula movement, then resumed, following a short break, in the 1980s. He was the driving force behind the establishment of a settlement on his traditional lands, near the place of his birth.
The title of this painting refers to a permanent waterhole in sandhill country south of Jupiter Well. Tingarri Men, their male initiates and 2 powerful female initiates gathered at this important sacred site during the Dreaming. A fire lit by men from the south, to signal their presence, threatened a store of sacred ceremonial objects. The initiates were instructed to build a barrier, which became a sandhill around the waterhole. This diverted the fire eastward and the Tingarri people followed its burnt-out path.
Tingarri Men at Ngalkalarra, 1975
At camps along their travelling path, the Tingarri Men revealed secret ceremonies to the initiates with whom they travelled. Moving west to a sacred rock waterhole (the concentric circles at base of this painting), the Tingarri Men put down their firesticks and painted the chests of the initiates with secret–sacred designs for the ceremonies that would take place at the site.