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Thomas Tjapaltjarri

Thomas Tjapaltjarri

Born in: 1964

Australia

Biography
Translation in progress

Thomas was born circa 1964 near Lake Mackay, Murruwa and Australia's Western Desert. In late 1984, Thomas, Walala & Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri and six other relatives of the Pintupi Tribe walked out of the desert and made contact for the first time with European society. Now known as The Lost Tribe, their emergence from the desert, in a region which was thought no longer to have any traditional owners still living a nomadic way of life, caused great national and international interest. Until their emergence from the desert, Thomas and his relatives had lived the traditional and nomadic life of a hunter-gatherer. Their intimate knowledge of the land, its flora and fauna and waterholes allowed them to survive, as their ancestors had, for thousands of years. Thomas began painting in his early 20’s at Papunya after being introduced to it by his brothers Warlimpirrnga and Walala, painters of exceptional international acclaim. Thomas has been described by those who know him as a man with his mind on the desert more than on town life (Paul Toohey, The Bulletin 4/5/2004). Like his brothers, Thomas shares a dotting technique with other Pintupi artists such as Willy and George Ward Tjungurrayi. Thomas's works explore the stories of the Tingari cycle. During the creation era, Tingari ancestors gathered at a series of sites for Initiation Ceremonies and travelled across country, performing rituals at specific sites that created the natural features of the landscape. Creation stories and rituals are still passed to the new generation portrayed in song cycles, paintings and ceremonies. Thomas depicts the song cycle associated with the artist's many dreaming sites and the locations of significant natural sites in the Gibson Desert. The brothers are described in The New McCulloch’s Encyclopedia of Australian Art as ‘painters of quiet significance’. Thomas is a member of Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd, the first Aboriginal owned cooperative which defined the mould for all Aboriginal art centres today.
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