Living Water

The 16 new artworks in Living Water showcase both senior and emerging artists and pay homage to the significance of water to the peoples of Martu Country. During the pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) period, knowledge of water sources was fundamental for survival and Martu Country is still defined by its water sources today. But while there are many permanent springs only some are ‘living waters’; natural sources protected by powerful ancestral beings known as jila, who take the form of snakes.

Before they became snakes, jila were men who made rain, formed the land and led culture though ceremonies and songs. Ancient stories tell how some travelled the desert together, but all ended their journeys alone at a chosen spring, where they were transformed into snakes. Their springs are named after their jilas, who forever guards their precious waters.

Martu artists are masters of colour, gesture and subtlety, and their work is much sought-after by private and institutional collectors around the world. Martu artworks are often painted in layers, some invisible on the final canvas but creating an unseen third dimension, essential to both the artist and the artwork’s meaning to Martu people.

View online catalogue HERE.

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