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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Tjunkiya Napaltjarri


Yumari is a rockhole situated in an area of Tali (Sandhills) in Western Australia. The parallel lines in this painting represent the rows of Tali. In the Tjukurrpa, ancestral women gathered at Yumari to collect Kampurarrpa (Desert Raisin) and perform ceremonies before continuing on to Pinari and, finally, Kalipinypa. One of these women separated from the group and had intercourse with Yina—an old trickster man. Their relationship was taboo, as in desert kinship systems, she was his considered his mother-in-law. For this transgression, his penis was attacked by a swarm of ants. The name of the site, Yumari, literally translates as “mother-in-law place” referencing these ancestral actions.

Language Groups: Pintupi and Luritja
Dates: 1927–2009

Tjunkiya Napaltjarri was born at Rapalangya, north-west of the Kintore Community and later moved to Haasts Bluff with her husband and then to the Papunya community when it was established. She first painted at the Ikuntji Women’s Centre in 1994 and later participated in the Haast Bluff/Kintore Women’s Paintings Camp, collaborating with other women artists on large works. Tjunkiya began painting for Papunya Tula Artists in 1996. Following the removal of her cataracts, Tjunkiya’s career exploded and her paintings were exhibited widely across Australia. In 1999 Tjunkiya contributed to the Kintore women’s painting as part of the Western Desert Dialysis Appeal. In 2000 she received a solo exhibition at William Mora Galleries and later that year her work was included in Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Tjunkiya passed away in Alice Springs after a brief illness in April 2009.

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