76 x 122 cm: acrylic on linen
“Katjarra’s [Katjarra Butler] ngurra (home Country, camp). Birthplace. [It is] sandhill country. Rockhole, little bit of rocks. And in the sandhill, there is a jurnu (soakwater). They take that water, come out [of the soakwater]. Partjanta the name of that jurnu. Main one. She [Katjarra Butler] been go jina [foot, walking]. Early days. Walking [to] Kintore, Papunya.”
“I’m painting my grandmother’s country, her way. Katjarra style.”
This site forms part of Sharon’s ngurra (home Country, camp) through her grandmother, Katjarra Butler. Located east of Kiwirrkurra and on Pintupi country.
The Western Desert term ‘ngurra’ is hugely versatile in application. Broadly denoting birthplace and belonging, ngurra can refer to a body of water, a camp site, a large area of Country, or even a modern house. People identify with their ngurra in terms of specific rights and responsibilities, and the possession of intimate knowledge of the physical and cultural properties of one’s Country. This knowledge is traditionally passed intergenerationally through family connections. Country for Martu is full of memory; not just the memory of their own movement through it, but also of their family. As summarised by Ngalangka Nola Taylor, “painting the ngurra, they do it to remember their connections.”
Painting ngurra, and in so doing sharing the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) stories and physical characteristics of that place, has today become an important means of cultural maintenance. Physical maintenance of one’s ngurra, like cultural maintenance, ensures a site’s wellbeing, and is a responsibility of the people belonging to that area.
This work depicts a yinta (permanent spring) within the artists’ ngurra (home Country, camp), typically depicted with circular forms. Yinta provided a reliable source of water and were traditionally used as camping sites throughout the year.
During the pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) period, 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 through real life experience and the recounting of Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narratives by name, location, quality and seasonal availability. This encyclopedic knowledge extends even to the nature and movement of arterial waterways, and sustained Martu as they travelled across their Country, hunting and gathering, visiting family, and fulfilling ceremonial obligations. They would traverse very large distances annually, visiting specific areas in the dry and wet season depending on the availability of water and the corresponding cycles of plant and animal life on which hunting and gathering bush tucker was reliant.
Martumili Artists warns visitors that our website includes images and artworks of Artists who have passed away which may cause distress to some Indigenous people.
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.