Thomas Tjapaltjarri: Tingari Dreaming 5,
synthetic polymers on linen, 150cm x 200cm
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"Tingari" is a creation story from the dreamtime. A group of ancestral Pintupi Aboriginal elders embarked upon periodic epic journeys through the vastness of the Gibson/Western deserts. As the elders travelled, performing sacred and mystical rituals, they opened up new land. The travels of these elders, "Tingari" are handed down from generation to generation in song and painting cycles that are part of the Pintupi people's beliefs today. The songs and paintings of the Tingari Cycle form an integral part of the dreamings and culture passed to the next generation of initiates known as the Punyunyu.
The Pintupi people were nomads who wandered over incredible distances from west of Lake MacKay in Western Australia to just east of Kintore in the Northern Territory. The remarkable paintings of the Pintupi are in effect an aerial view landscapes, sometimes on a scale that reflects the vastness of their country. These paintings map not only the physical landscape, but also the spiritual element and how the two interact.
Indeed, the Pintupi lands are so remote that only as recently as 1984, a family group of 9 Pintupi speakers (The Last Nomads) walked out the desert into the small community at Kiwirrkura just inside the Western Australian border. These people had lived undetected and completely unaware of Western culture. When they walked into the 20th century, they brought with them intact dreamings and lore that stretched back tens of thousands of years.
Thomas Tjapaltjarri was one of that group of 9 of the original group who emerged from the desert in 1984; the nomadic streak remains strongest perhaps in Thomas.