New Works


21-1000 – May Chapman


May Chapman

91 x 91 cm: acrylic on linen
Year: 2021


Tarl is a spring located at the southern end of the large salt lake, Nyayartakujarra (Lake Dora), and at the south of Punmu Aboriginal community. Surrounding Tarl are numerous fresh water soaks and the permanent red tali (sandhills) typical of the area. This site lies within Mayiwalku’s ngurra (home Country, camp) through her grandmother, and was part of the area which she knew intimately and travelled extensively with her family in her youth. 

During the pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) period, Martu would traverse very large distances annually in small family groups, moving seasonally from water source to water source, and hunting and gathering bush tucker as they went. At this time knowledge of water sources was critical for survival, and today Martu Country is still defined in terms of the location and type of water. Each of the hundreds of claypans, rockholes, waterholes, soaks and springs found in the Martu desert homelands is known by name, location, quality and seasonal availability through real life experience and the recounting of Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narratives.

Tarl features in the Jila Kujarra (Two Snakes) Jukurrpa narrative, one of the key Martu foundation narratives. Though the story belongs to Warnman people, it is shared across the Western Desert with several other language groups. The narrative centres on the travels of two snakes as they are pursued by the Niminjarra, spiritual ancestors of the Warnman people.

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Martumili Artists acknowledges the Nyiyaparli and Martu people as the Traditional Owners of the land we live and work on. We also acknowledge the Traditional Owners throughout our country and our Elders; past, present and emerging.