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“Taji- down Kumarina way. That’s where Putijarra people all been living, that’s our camping ground. We been get two [Native Title] determinations for our Country. We had a court in Kumarina, and we been win for that.” 

– Miriam Atkins


This work depicts Taji, a water source located in the East Pilbara, around the southern end of the Canning Stock Route. The site forms part of Miriam’s Country- her ‘ngurra’ (home Country, camp). As alluded to here by Miriam, this site was determined as part of a 12,150 square kilometre Native Title tract of land in the Central Desert region of Western Australia in 2017 .

People identify with their ngurra in terms of specific rights and responsibilities, and the possession of intimate knowledge of the physical and cultural properties of one’s Country. Painting ngurra, and in so doing sharing the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) stories and physical characteristics of that place, has today become an important means of cultural maintenance. Miriam’s ngurra encompasses her birthplace on Bulloo Downs Station, south east of Newman, and the Country that her family walked in the pujiman (traditional, desert-dwelling) era, from the southern end of the Canning Stock Route through to Kumpupirntily (Kumpupintily, Lake Disappointment)

Portrayed in this work are features of Miriam’s family’s ngurra, such as the striking salt lakes, dominant permanent red tali (sandhills), warta (trees, vegetation), and the individually named water sources they camped at. Rock holes, waterholes, soaks and springs were all extremely important sites for Martu people during the pujiman period.

Name: Miriam Atkins

Language: Putijarra


Miriam Atkins was born in 1947 on Bulloo Downs Station, located south east of Newman. She is the sister of highly acclaimed Martumili Artist Yunkurra Billy Atkins. Today Miriam lives between Newman and Jigalong Aboriginal community.

Miriam was one of the pioneering painters at Martumili Artists. She paints her family’s ngurra (home Country, camp), spanning from the southern end of the Canning Stock Route through to Kumpupirntily (Kumpupintily, Lake Disappointment). Miriam has developed a unique painting style, oscillating between naive realist landscapes and more highly abstracted depictions of her Country, blending traditional symbology with beautifully patterned motifs. Her paintings have been exhibited across Australia as part of several group exhibitions.

© the artist / art centre