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Kurrunpa Pukurlpa (Spirit Happy)

“This one here is just like when you got a lot of stress and worries.  Make your mind think of a lot of things.  In this painting I put not bad colours, good colours to help fight those things in your mind.  These two (points to white circles bottom right) maparn wantis (spiritual, magic ladies) they landed at Wantili they would put out a sort of radar so the Seven Sisters would know where to go.  They spiritual ladies, like GPS they help find your way.  This one (points to top right) is Seven Sisters.  Over there (top left) Southern Cross, maparn girls, medicine girls.  Here (bottom left) is the ngurra (home, country, camp) for wantis.  When they dance around the ngurra, smooth it all out.  All these create the minerals, the gold.  The dotting colour Martu use these for lore.”

The term Jukurrpa is often translated in English as the ‘dreaming’, or ‘dreamtime’. It refers generally to the period in which the world was created by ancestral beings, who assumed both human and nonhuman forms. These beings shaped what had been a formless landscape; creating waters, plants, animals, and people. At the same time they provided cultural protocols for the people they created, as well as rules for interacting with the natural environment. At their journey’s end, the ancestral beings transformed themselves into important waters, hills, rocks, and even constellations. 

Minyipuru, or Jakulyukulyu (Seven Sisters) is a central Jukurrpa narrative for Martu, Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people that is associated with the seasonal Pleiades star constellation. Relayed in song, dance, stories and paintings, Minyipuru serves as a creation narrative, a source of information relating to the physical properties of the land, and an embodiment of Aboriginal cultural laws. When Martumili Artists was established in 2005, this was the first Jukurrpa story the artists agreed to paint for a broader public. 

Beginning in Roebourne on the west coast of Western Australia, the story morphs in its movement eastward across the land, following a group of women as they walk, dance, and even fly from waterhole to waterhole. As they travel the women camp, sing, wash, dance and gather food, leaving markers in the landscape and creating landforms that remain to this day, such as groupings of rocks and trees, grinding stones and seeds. During the entirety of their journey the women are pursued by a lustful old man, Yurla, although interactions with other animals, groups of men, and spirit beings are also chronicled.

Name: Heather Samson

Community: Jigalong


“I was born out at Jigalong Mission and grew up in mission with my families. I went to school there right up to year 7. Finished then and worked around the community for a while as a single lady. I worked in the school for a little while then I worked in the clinic for 4 years, I did a lot of things like taking temperatures when people got sick and doing first aid on them as well. Then I went on to meet my partner. We got married and went to live on the station Yalleen near Pannawonica. We were working up and down, Belfer downs and Yalleen. We had kids then, I looked after my oldest sisters daughter and took her as my own and grew her up, then I had my own. Philipa first then Anthony and Caleb and Tanya and I adopted Elton, as they grew old enough to go back to the community  I wanted to take them there they didn’t know any of my families coz they grew up in the station. So we went back to Jigalong to be with the families so they know them then.

It was good to take them back, back in the school because I need them to have a good education. We settled down my partner was a pastoral manager for wallakanya (the whole big area) and I use to help him doing station works Billinooka and Walgun and Jigalong pastoral leases looking after the cattle there. Branding them and feeding them with a lot of hays, we use to ride down to Midland to sell the cattle on the community truck. It was really hard getting all the cattle in one single truck we use to get a cattle train to. I was doing the paper work for all that work.

I remember in Yalleen there is one big tree covered in those ants and they light up they light up like they are on fire at night time. Beautiful. That place is next to Port Hedland and Indee Station side.

 I been doing a lot of charcoal drawings and bark painting in Jigalong. I learnt charcoal in school I love that it’s easy you sketch maybe a tree and you can always put the shadings on it using your thumbs and even on the clouds.

Now I’m painting with Martumili which I really love, when im in town I paint. I paint about seven sisters and water holes and my ngurra (home Country, camp), my homelands all around Jigalong, Puntawarrie around Parnngurr around Yulpul area.”

© the artist / art centre