Pujiman is Martu for ‘desert born’ and the three Martu artists featured in Aboriginal Contemporary’s new exhibition are among the last surviving members of the last ever pujiman generation.

In the words of a senior artist at Martumili Artists in the East Pilbara, W.A.: “Pujiman Days are almost gone. There is so much lost but we need to keep sharing to keep it alive.”

Pujiman is very much alive in the paintings of internationally-acclaimed artists Bugai Whyoulter and sisters May and Nancy Chapman. Their work depicts the salt lakes, sandhills and waterholes they learnt about as young girls travelling the vast deserts of Martu Country with their parents - moving from one water source to the next as the seasons changed.

Bugai Whyoulter was one of the last Martu people to leave the desert and started painting in her community of Kunuwarritji, near Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route. Bugai learnt her craft from renowned artists and close friends Nora Nungabar and Nora Wompi, now both sadly passed. Bugai is a master of colour, gesture and subtlety, effortlessly transferring an intimate knowledge of her land and its stories to her canvasses. Bugai’s work has won many prestigious art awards and is widely sought after by public galleries and private collectors alike.

Nancy and May Chapman lost both their parents when they were young girls and spent many years living on their Country before finally leaving the desert to live at Jigalong Mission. Today, the two sisters are community leaders as well as artists; keeping pujiman tradition, stories and culture alive while advancing the national and international reputation of Western Desert Aboriginal art.

Asked to describe the inspiration for one of her works, Nancy Chapman recalls life as a young girl in the desert: “We walked around here long time. We collected bush tucker here. We collected seeds around here for grinding and making damper. We were walking around here in pujiman days. We were little girls with no clothes.”

View the catalogue for this exhibition HERE