Artist: Bugai Whyoulter's - Wantili
Size: 152cm x 152cmMedium: Acrylic on canvas
Story from the certificate of authenticity:
'This is my grandmother's Country, my Country - Wantili. Wantili is good for painting and telling stories. Our stories are still strong. I wanted to take Bugai back there. It is important place, she hadn't been there for a long time.
My grandmother always tells me about Wantili, she was a young girl walking around there. Her family would travel between Wantili Kaalpa, Juntujuntu, Raarki and Wuranu wells along the Canning Stock Route. Big mob of people they been walking around there. She saw whitefellas there for the first time. Canning mob when they were travelling up and down the stock route with bullock. They were running away from those whitefellas, watching them from a distance.
She was a teenager when she was travelling around there with her four mothers and one daddy. They used to walk around in family groups, in pujiman (traditional bush dwelling ) days.
We made these paintings out at Wantili - painting at the edge of the claypan with my grandmother and family. It's important that place, out a long way from Newman. We drove out to Purrngurr one night and camped out and then going to Wantili with the elderly people, old ladies. Those old people liked going to Wantili, where the creation started. Jakayu (Biljabu) and Kumpaya (Girgaba). Then two aunties told me a story about dreamtime and how important Wantili was. People from different tribes, from all over the place would come here for the initiation ceremony.
The jukurrpa (dreaming) stories from Wantili are just for Martu but the site is open and anyone can go there. It's a lovely part of the country to take the kids for a swim.
The place has changed. The water used to be muddy like chocolate, now the water is clear. Maybe from climate change, maybe from mining, maybe from something else. The changes don't have to be bad, the landscape is always changing, same way as Martu people.
It's good to make work sitting out in Country but I can make these paintings anywhere, just like those old people. Wherever I am painting. Country takes me back there in my head, back to jukurrpa times, back to pujiman (traditional desert dwelling) days when my grandmother walked around there and back to days going there for a swim as a kid. I hope this painting carries people there too. I'm proud to be able to share my culture and stories with younger Martu people and whitefellas.'
Wantili is a large lyinji (clay pan) near Well 25 on the Canning Stock Route. It lies close to Bugai's birthplace and is her ngurra (home country). Developed during a 2018 bush trip to Wantili, this artwork demonstrates both the collaborative practice that Martumilli Artists are known for but also the inter-generational transferral of cultural and creative knowledge that is taking place in the community. Through painting alongside each other, Bugai and Cyril ensure the continuation of culture and the preservation of strong family connection.
Martumili Artists was established in late 2006 and supports Martu artists in Kunawarritji, Punmu, Parnngurr, Jigalong, Warralong, Irrungadji (Nullagine) and Parnpajinya (Newman). Many Martu artists have close relationships with established artists amongst Yulparija, Kukatja and other Western Desert peoples and are now gaining recognition in their own right for their diverse, energetic and unmediated painting styles. Their works reflect the dramatic geography and scale of their homelands in the Great Sandy Desert and Rudall River regions of Western Australia. Martumili Artists represents speakers of Manyjilyjarra, Warnman, Kartujarra, Putijarra and Martu Wangka languages, many of whom experienced first contact with Europeans in the 1960s. The artists include painters, working in acrylics and oils, as well as weavers coiling baskets and sculptors working in wood, grass and wool. Martu artists proudly maintain their creative practices whilst pursuing social and cultural obligations across the Martu homelands.