Children's Story synthetic polymer paint and synthetic binder on composition board 61 x 51cm
PROVENANCE: Painted at Papunya in 1972 Consignment 14, painting number 36 to the Stuart Art Centre, Alice Springs Private collection
EXHIBITED: Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art, The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 30 September 2011 - 12 February 2012; Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, 9 October 2012 - 27 January 2013
LITERATURE: Bardon, Geoffrey and James Bardon, Papunya, A Place Made After the Story: The Beginnings of the Western Desert Painting Movement, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2004, p.486 reproduces an annotated line drawing of the painting by Geoffrey Bardon Judith Ryan, Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2011, p.226 (illus.)., p.304, listed in the text.
Cf. See Bardon's chapter on and illustrations of paintings of Children's Dreamings by Timmy Payangka Tjapangarti, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula and others in Bardon and Bardon 2004, pp.474 - 501.
The beginnings of the Western Desert painting movement followed on from the murals senior men painted on the school walls at Papunya in 1971 at the request of the teacher Geoffrey Bardon. The exercise had made Bardon and the artists sensitive to the type of imagery that could be depicted for public consumption, that being the difference between images of sacred and secret objects and designs, and those that were open for all to see. A series of debates among the senior artists, including Shorty Lungkata, resulted in a number of pictorial and interpretative strategies being adopted for paintings intended for public viewing. These included the use of fields of dotting to mask specific iconographic images, and the interpretations of paintings were limited to that which could be made public the so-called 'outside story'.
In 1971 Bardon commissioned Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi, Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra, Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri and several other artists to create 'children's story' paintings to assist him with his teaching. Bardon describes these works as exhibiting 'an extraordinary clarity and immediacy, for the painters had to discipline themselves to concentrate on the essentials of the story to be told ... [and this] was one of the outstanding achievements of the Papunya painters during [Bardon's] stay' (Bardon and Bardon 2004:64). In 1972 another set of children's paintings were requested and fourteen of these, including Goanna Love Story by Shorty Lungkata, are now in the collection of the Araluen Galleries in the Alice Springs Cultural Precinct.
Tjungurrayi's Children's story, 1972, depicts a young initiate sitting on the ceremonial ground within the enclosed space defined by the outer oval form. Shorty Lungkata rarely depicted the human form in his paintings, but Bardon (ibid p.486) states this is a significant exception. Beneath the initiate is a set of concentric circles that represent the ground painting in the ceremony. The ceremonial ground painting extends along a matrix of white dotted lines that join black circles. The U-shapes in the top left represent the elders who conduct the ceremonies, to either side of which are double and triple cross-like forms which are the sticks the elders rub together to make fire, while the large black shapes represent ritual objects.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: This painting is currently on loan to the National Gallery of Victoria for inclusion in the second leg of the landmark Melbourne exhibition, Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art, at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris from 9 October 2012 - 27 January 2013. It will be available for collection by the successful buyer upon its return to Australia.