Sunfly Tjampitjin | Kukatja language group | Australia 1916–96 | Poyarri 1988 | Synthetic polymer paint on canvas | 119.5 x 85cm | Gift of Daphne Morgan through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2005 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery © Sunfly Tjampitjin, 1988. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2005.
Kukatja language group
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
119.5 x 85cm
Gift of Daphne Morgan through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2005
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
© Sunfly Tjampitjin, 1988. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2005.
Sunfly Tjampitjin was a respected senior custodian for the Kukatja people. During his lifetime, he assisted anthropologists document Kukatja culture. His country encompassed Mankay and Lake Mackay, some 250 kilometres south of Wirrimanu (Balgo) in Western Australia.
Poyarri 1988 is a major painting from the early stage of the artist’s short career. The country, Poyarri, is named after the important tjurrnu (soakwater) in the area, which Tjampitjin has depicted as circles. This area is in sandhill country at the top of the Great Sandy Desert, also in Western Australia, and represents an important site — a place of water in a harsh environment. These soaks are represented by roundels, with interconnected lines signifying paths that ancestral beings travelled as part of creation stories.
The confidence with which Sunfly Tjampitjin depicted this site is astonishing and attests to his great cultural knowledge. The many rows of fine parallel lines, framed by dots linking each site, suggest movement between related desert sites. In this painting, the route of the pathways is dramatised by the use of white dots, which appear to vibrate and oscillate on the surface of the canvas.