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Wantili (Warntili, Canning Stock Route Well 25)

“This is my Grandmother’s [Bugai Whyoulter’s] Country, my Country. Wantili (Warntili, Canning Stock Route Well 25) is old Law Grounds from Dreaming days and very important to Martu people. My grandmother always tells me about Wantili because she grew up around Wantili. It is close to her birthplace and is her ngurra (home Country, camp). She was a young girl walking around at Wantili. Her family would travel between Wantili, Kaalpa, Juntu-juntu, Raarki, and Wuranu Wells along the Canning Stock Route. Big mob of people they been walking around there. She saw whitefellas there for the first time, Canning mob when they were traveling up and down the stock route with the bullock. They were running away from those whitefellas, watching them from a distance. She was a teenager when she was travelling around there with her four mothers and one daddy. They used to travel around in family groups, Bugai and Jakayu [Biljabu], and Jakayu’s nyupa (partner) Phillip Biljabu. They met Kumpaya [Girgirba] coming from Kun Kun (Kuny-Kuny), Kunawarritji area. Bugai returned to the Wantili area as a young woman, when she worked driving cattle along the Stock Route. 

Wantili is good for painting and telling stories. Our stories are still strong. I wanted to take Bugai back to Wantili. It is an important place; she hadn’t been there for a long time. My nana [Pinyirr] Nancy took me there as a young boy. Bugai is the older sister of Nancy. I been… three times going there. It’s important that place, out a long way from Newman… Those old people like going to Wantili, where the creation started. Jakayu and Kumpaya… them two aunties told me a story about Dreamtime, and how important Wantili was. People from different tribes…from all over the place could come there for the initiation ceremony. The Jukurrpa (Dreaming) stories from Wantili are just for Martu but the site is open, and anyone can go there. 

It’s a lovely part of the Country to take the kids for a swim. The place has changed. The water used to be muddy like chocolate, now the water is clear. Maybe from climate change, maybe from mining, maybe from something else. The changes don’t have to be bad; the landscape is always changing, same way as Martu people. It’s good to make work sitting out in Country, but I can make these paintings anywhere, just like those old people. Wherever I am, painting Country takes me back there in my head, back to Jukurrpa times, back to pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) days when my grandmother walked around there, and back to days going there for a swim as a kid. I hope this painting carries people there too. I’m proud to be able to share my culture and stories with younger Martu people and whitefellas.”

Name: Cyril Whyoulter

Language: Kartujarra

Community: Parnngurr


"My mum's father came from Kirriwirri in the North. I can paint that way too. I like painting, it's a good way to learn from old people, keep the stories going. Yunkurra (Billy Atkins), my nyamu (grandfather), he's guiding me about what I can paint and share. My closest family is the Taylor mob; uncle Muuki, Wokka, and Ngalangka (Nola). They help me too."

- Cyril Whyoulter

Cyril's mother's and Father's country is Jartuti. He is the grandson of senior Martumili Artists Bugai Whyoulter and Pinyirr (dec.). Cyril grew up in Parnngurr and Punmu communities. He now lives with his wife and children between Perth and Newman.

Cyril first developed an interest in art making when he began colouring in pencil with his grandfather Larry Patterson. An avid experimentalist and prolific painter, he has since mastered many painting techniques and developed his own signature style in which the influence of his grandmother Bugai is evident. Cyril is respected as a learned cultural leader, and is a strong proponent of the importance of intergenerational knowledge transfer.


© the artist / art centre