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Anmatyerr language group

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri.
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. Flinders University Art Museum Collection. Photo: Professor JVS Megaw

about 1932–2002

Born in a creekbed on Napperby Station, Tjapaltjarri didn't attend school and worked from late boyhood as a stockman. He began carving in his late teens and had a reputation as a skilled craftsman when the painting movement began at Papunya in 1971.

The BBC's Desert Dreamers documentary, in which he was filmed painting Warlugulong (1976), gave the Papunya painters their first widespread exposure. Tjapaltjarri's skill and inventiveness, and his enormous enthusiasm for life, helped to make him the most celebrated Aboriginal artist of his generation.

He was chairman of Papunya Tula Artists from 1980 to 1983 and again in the late 1980s. He became an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2002.

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