This Place My Country by Helicopter Tjungurrayi
Helicopter has depicted some of his traditional country, which is located far to the southwest of Balgo in the Great Sandy Desert. This country is centred around Jupiter Well and is dominated by tali or sand hills.
“These lines made by wind are talis. Kurli, good wind, brings warm weather. Not rubbish wind, yalta (cold wind), maybe kill babies and old people. Lovely time of year, birds everywhere, everything growing, boys and girls running amok. This soak, living water, we call yinta, really full up when rains come. These white stones, mawuntu, special place; ceremony place.” Helicopter Tjungurrayi
This is one of 28 prints included in the exhibition Yilpinji, Love Magic & Ceremony that toured throughout Australia and internationally. This is the first time in the history of Aboriginal printmaking that a body of prints became available that focused on a unique aspect of Aboriginal culture. Fifteen senior Aboriginal artists have each created a thematic work on Yilpinji, the love magic practised by the Warlpiri and Kukatja people of the central and western deserts of Australia. This little-known aspect of Aboriginal culture is explored in this important body of etchings, screenprints and linocuts.
This print and the other 27 showing in the exhibition are graphically illustrated with accompanying text in the book, Yilpinji Love Art & Ceremony, written by Christine Nicholls, senior lecturer, Flinders University.
- Medium: linocut - hand-wiped and rolled eight-colour relief print
- Image size: 76cm x 56cm
- Paper size: 76cm x 56cm
- Edition size: 99
Helicopter Tjungurrayi was an Aboriginal artist from Balgo Hills in Western Australia. Born at Nynmi, Helicopter learnt from a young age the location of water sources and how to hunt for bush food. Helicopter was a Maparn (traditional medicine man) and people travelled hundreds of miles to see him for healing. He was also a respected painter alongside his wife Lucy Yukenbarri. In the early 1990s, he painted with his wife, not seeking any acknowledgement.
From 1994, Helicopter painted on his own in a distinctive linear style that emanates from the central feature of a soak water. Helicopter travelled widely during the mission days to pick up supplies (Broome, Alice Springs, Wyndham). There are many stories of the endless tasks performed on the Mission: drilling for water, cutting timber for fencing, fixing the windmill. He was dedicated to painting his country and the country of his mother and father, where he lived a nomadic life as a young boy.
Image size: 76cm x 56cm
Paper size: 76cm x 56cm