This website was developed for the exhibition Irriṯitja Kuwarri Tjungu | Past & Present Together: Fifty Years of Papunya Tula Artists that was on view at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia from 2021-23 and the Embassy of Australia in Washington, DC in 2024. It was made possible by our creative partnership with Papunya Tula Artists and the generous support of UVA Arts Council. Site design by Urban Fugitive for V21 Artspace.
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Mick Wallangkarri Tjakamarra

Honey Ant Travels

In July 1971, some men from Papunya traveled to nearby Yuendumu to see a mural created by Warlpiri artists for their newly opened Men’s Museum. When they returned they were encouraged to paint a mural on the wall of the Papunya School. After much discussion, the subject was selected: the travels of the Honey Ant ancestor, who passed through Papunya and other nearby sites. For inspiration, Mick Wallangkarri Tjakamarra and other senior artists instructed a younger artist, Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, to retrieve sacred objects showing Honey Ant designs. Mick Wallangkarri painted his own version of the Honey Ant Dreaming in this painting, around the same time he was helping supervise the younger men painting the school mural.

Like another mob bin have 'im that stone [tools]... And when this old man was a young fella, he bin learn with kantjingarri (steel tools) from European people... Before box-a-matches, we bin use 'im woomera on the shield to make a fire; well, this old man bin learn me for everything.


Language Groups: Kukatja and Ngalia
Dates: 1905-1996

Mick Wallangkarri Tjakamarra was born at Watikipinrri near Nyirrpi Well, west of Karringyarra. He was a senior custodian of Karrinyarra and one of the senior custodians of Karrku, Watikipinrri and Watulpunyu. One of the oldest of the founding artists at Papunya, Mick Wallangkarri was also known for his high ceremonial status and his knowledge of songs, stories, and designs. He assisted in the completion of the Honey Ant Dreaming mural at Papunya School by supervising the young painters at work. Influence of Mick Wallangkarri’s style can be seen in younger painters that came after him, such as Maxie Tjampitjinpa and Don Tjungurrayi. His work was the first Western Desert painting to be purchased by the National Gallery of Australia and was exhibited in the Asia Society’s Dreamings: Art of Aboriginal Australia exhibition which toured North America from 1988-1989.

Are you related to this artist? Are you a scholar of artwork from the Papunya Tula movement? Please contact us at kluge-ruhe@virginia.edu if you would like to add something to this page or see something that is missing or incorrect.