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Camels gather in the shade of a big Gumtree

This work portrays an area known intimately to the artist, painted here in exquisite detail from memory. During the pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) era one’s survival depended on their intimate knowledge of the location of resources; thus physical elements of Country, such as sources of kapi (water), tali (sandhills), and different varieties of warta (trees, vegetation) were carefully observed and remembered. Today, this relationship with Country remains equally strong, despite the movement of Martu out of the desert and into remote Aboriginal Communities, towns and cities.

Also visible may be traces of life cycles based around kalyu (rain, water) and waru (fire). A thousands of year old practice, fire burning continues to be carried out as both an aid for hunting and a means of land management today. As the Martu travelled and hunted they would burn tracts of land, ensuring plant and animal biodiversity and reducing the risk of unmanageable, spontaneous bush fires. The patchwork nature of regrowth is visible in many landscape works, with each of the five distinctive phases of fire burning visually described with respect to the cycle of burning and regrowth.  

Finally, metaphysical information relating to a location may also be recorded; Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narratives chronicle the creation of physical landmarks, and can be referenced through depictions of ceremonial sites, songlines, and markers left in the land. 

Name: Sonia Williams

Language: Kartujarra, Putijarra

Community: Parnngurr


Sonia was born in Port Hedland and grew up in Jigalong before moving to Parnngurr Community with her family. “I’m raising four children here. Parnngurr is a good place, it’s quiet here and the mob is busy. I’ll teach my kids to paint when they’re older. My little one, she likes the painting, every time I paint she stands behind me and wants to colour in.” Sonia paints bush tucker and scenes from traditional life. She has also painted the story of her grandmother Daisy’s journey along the Rabbit Proof Fence.

© the artist / art centre