46 x 61 cm: acrylic on canvas
“My Country, Kulyakartu. I grew up there, from little boy to big boy grew up there.”
– Muuki Taylor
This painting depicts Kulyakartu, Muuki’s ngurra (home Country, camp). Kulyakartu is located in the far north of the Martu homelands, near the Percival Lakes region of Western Australia’s Great Sandy Desert. Muuki has extensive knowledge of the Country in this region, where he grew up living traditionally during the pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) days with his family. Kulyakartu is mostly grass Country where there is very good hunting. In particular parnajarrpa (goanna), wild cats, and lunki (witchetty grub) are found in abundance here. There is no permanent water source in Kulyakartu, so Muuki’s family would walk here annually following the wantajarra (wet season). During the yalijarra (hot, dry season) they would head south again to more permanent water.
Muuki paints Kulyakartu in all its different seasonal stages. Often visible in his work is the patchwork nature of regrowth subsequent to the practice of waru (fire) burning that assists with hunting, regenerates growth, and encourages greater diversity in plant and animal life. This mosaic patterning is aligned with the five distinct Martu cyclical phases of burning and regrowth. First is nyurnma (freshly burnt Country) when Muuki is “making waru”. Following nyurnma are the rains and subsequent waru-waru, when young, bright green plants start to grow. Nyukura occurs between one and three years after burning, when plants have matured and are fruiting and seeding. Manguu is “when him finished”, four to six years post burning, and when spinifex has matured to the point that it can be burned once again. Finally, kunarka signifies the time when spinifex and other plant species have become old growth, and pose a risk of destructive bushfires.
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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.