Acrylic on Canvas Painting by Helen Samson of Martu Milli Art Centre
Painting: 36 x 76 cm: acrylic on canvas - Untitled
Artist: Helen Samson
This is Helen's Country - her ‘ngurra’ (home Country, camp). People identify with their ngurra in terms of specific rights and responsibilities, and the possession of intimate knowledge of the physical and cultural properties of one’s Country. Painting ngurra, and in so doing sharing the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) stories and physical characteristics of that place, has today become an important means of cultural maintenance. Dale’s ngurra encompasses her birthplace, Jigalong, and the Country that her family walked in the pujiman (traditional, desert-dwelling) era, including Puntawarri, Raarki (Canning Stock Route Well 27), Kularti, Kumpupirntily , Mirtikanya, (Kumpupintily, Lake Disappointment), and Mukurtu.
Portrayed in this work are features of Dale’s family’s ngurra, such as the striking salt lakes, dominant permanent red tali (sandhills), warta (trees, vegetation), and the individually named water sources they camped at. Rock holes, waterholes, soaks and springs were all extremely important sites for Martu people during the pujiman period, and are generally depicted with circular forms.
The encyclopaedic knowledge of the location, quality and seasonal availability of the hundreds of water bodies found in one’s Country sustained Martu as they travelled across their Country, hunting and gathering, visiting family, and fulfilling ceremonial obligations. They would traverse very large distances annually, visiting specific areas in the dry and wet season depending on the availability of water and the corresponding cycles of plant and animal life on which hunting and gathering bush tucker was reliant. As they travelled and hunted they would also burn areas of Country, generating a greater diversity of plant and animal life.