Water Dreaming bears catalogue number 22 on the reverse synthetic polymer powder paint and natural earth pigments on composition board 93 x 19cm
PROVENANCE: Painted at Papunya in 1971 Collection of Dr. Colin Jack-Hinton, former Director of the Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory (1970 - 1993) Sotheby's, Important Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, 30 June 1997, lot 223 Private collection
The fertile nature of one of the major ancestral sites, Kalipinypa, for which the artist was a senior custodian, is the subject of this painting. It depicts a circular waterhole which is surrounded by a frenzy of gyrating lines representing lightning, amid serried rows of dots indicating rain and hail. In the lower section of the painting Warangkula has depicted bush foods, most probably the wild raisin kampurrarpa (Solanum-centrale) which flourishes after rain.
The long and narrow painting supports, such as this,. were a favoured shape among several of the early Papunya artists; it relates to the form of objects that are decorated and used in ritual. These so-called 'panel' paintings persisted well after the introduction of canvas at Papunya. Similar early panel paintings by Warangkula, Water Dreaming at Kalipinypa, 1971, and Water Dreaming ceremony in cave, 1971, both in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, are illustrated in Ryan et al, 2011, pp.263-4 respectively; Water Dreaming at Kalipinypa, 1971, is also illustrated in Bardon and Bardon 2004, painting number 69, p.162.
Dr. Colin Jack-Hinton, the original collector of this work, was Director of the Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory between 1970 and 1993. It was in this capacity that he first visited the community of Papunya in 1970 to witness the completion of a large sand painting. He recounts in his notes that it was 'a magnificent work, composed of designs drawn in the sand and decorated with multi-coloured rocks, pebbles, ochres, feathers and plant material. The men all appeared to be working quite independently of, and without communicating with each other, but the result was a completely cohesive work.'
Not long after, Pat Hogan of the Stuart Art Centre in Alice Springs, who had accompanied him on his visit to Papunya, made contact to inform Jack-Hinton of the recent development in the community, where a young art teacher named Geoffrey Bardon had encouraged senior men to paint their traditional designs onto board. So Jack-Hinton travelled to Alice Springs and selected 73 paintings for the collection of the Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, mainly from the first, second and third consignments sent to the Stuart Art Centre, 'a large and significant collection of some of the earliest works produced'. Having made the selection, 'which was virtually everything available', Dr. Jack-Hinton, acquired six works personally which had lost their attached documentation, 'that seemed to have reduced their ethnographic, but certainly not their artistic significance'. This painting is one of those six works.
References: Bardon, G. and J. Bardon, Papunya, A Place Made After the Story: The Beginnings of the Western Desert Painting Movement, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2004 Ryan, J, J. Kean et al, Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert art, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2011