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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. 

Categories: Martumili Artists

Name: Timille Whitby



I was born in Geraldton and stayed there for a couple of years. We moved to Perth, then my mum got a job with my dad to be dorm parents for the boys at Karalundi Aboriginal Education Centre, so we moved there. My mum, she was a Seventh Day Adventist, see? My dad would drive out to the communities like Jigalong, he’d go to the Warburton Ranges, Linster, Leonora and Wiluna to pick up the kids and bring them back to Karlundi for their schooling. Me and my brothers and two sisters grew up with those boys like they were our own brothers. We all went to school together and would take them on camps together. We’d take them back home for holidays too. I went with my dad on a couple of the trips.


I learnt a lot in my young days there. We used to go digging for honey ants, bush sweet potato, bardi, and parngarra with the elder ladies. They taught me how to make baskets too, with fishing wire and other bits.


After we grew up we moved back to Geraldton and I had my daughter, who was born premature. We decided to move toward the heat to help ope up my daughter’s lungs, so we went back up to Port Hedland and then Newman. My mum fell in love with Newman because it was close to the bush life, and because my uncle Joshua Booth and other family members lived there. My mum opened up all the houses at the back of the hospital in Newman for the FIFO doctors, and they named a street after her. She liked to help all the Aboriginal people.


Art is something for me to do. I love art, and I’m happy they opened up the new Martumili centre. Art is in our background and in my family, it’s in my blood. I always feel so relaxed once I’m painting.

© the artist / art centre