76 x 152 cm: acrylic on canvas
Wantili (Warntili, Canning Stock Route Well 25)
“This is my Grandmother’s [Bugai Whyoulter’s] Country, my Country. Wantili (Warntili, Canning Stock Route Well 25) is old Law Grounds from Dreaming days and very important to Martu people. My grandmother always tells me about Wantili because she grew up around Wantili. It is close to her birthplace and is her ngurra (home Country, camp). She was a young girl walking around at Wantili. Her family would travel between Wantili, Kaalpa, Juntu-juntu, Raarki, and Wuranu Wells along the Canning Stock Route. Big mob of people they been walking around there. She saw whitefellas there for the first time, Canning mob when they were traveling up and down the stock route with the bullock. They were running away from those whitefellas, watching them from a distance. She was a teenager when she was travelling around there with her four mothers and one daddy. They used to travel around in family groups, Bugai and Jakayu [Biljabu], and Jakayu’s nyupa (partner) Phillip Biljabu. They met Kumpaya [Girgirba] coming from Kun Kun (Kuny-Kuny), Kunawarritji area. Bugai returned to the Wantili area as a young woman, when she worked driving cattle along the Stock Route.
Wantili is good for painting and telling stories. Our stories are still strong. I wanted to take Bugai back to Wantili. It is an important place; she hadn’t been there for a long time. My nana [Pinyirr] Nancy took me there as a young boy. Bugai is the older sister of Nancy. I been… three times going there. It’s important that place, out a long way from Newman… Those old people like going to Wantili, where the creation started. Jakayu and Kumpaya… them two aunties told me a story about Dreamtime, and how important Wantili was. People from different tribes…from all over the place could come there for the initiation ceremony. The Jukurrpa (Dreaming) stories from Wantili are just for Martu but the site is open, and anyone can go there.
It’s a lovely part of the Country to take the kids for a swim. The place has changed. The water used to be muddy like chocolate, now the water is clear. Maybe from climate change, maybe from mining, maybe from something else. The changes don’t have to be bad; the landscape is always changing, same way as Martu people. It’s good to make work sitting out in Country, but I can make these paintings anywhere, just like those old people. Wherever I am, painting Country takes me back there in my head, back to Jukurrpa times, back to pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) days when my grandmother walked around there, and back to days going there for a swim as a kid. I hope this painting carries people there too. I’m proud to be able to share my culture and stories with younger Martu people and whitefellas.”
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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.