Bonita Nungurrayi Williams
Place of Birth: Alice Springs, NT
Bonita Nungurrayi Williams was born in Alice Springs in 1971. She has spent most of her life in Alice Springs apart from some of the time travelling in Western Australia. Bonita has been painting for about eight years and learnt from her mother who is also an artist. Her mother’s country is Ti Tree and her language is Anmatyerre. Bonita is married with four children. Her totems are the goanna and snake but Bonita often paints various bush foods such as witchetty grubs, honey ants and berries.
DESERT ART FROM CENTRAL AUSTRALIA
These paintings are modern examples of a tradition that goes back tens of thousands of years. The designs that embody them were originally drawn on rocks, in the sand or as decorations on the human form.
The transition to the modern medium of acrylic on canvas happened in the early 1970’s at a community called Papunya, approximately 250 km north-west of Alice Springs, and many people are now supported by the income earnt from the sale of their paintings.
Each of these paintings represents a landscape, a place. It is a narrative of the artist’s country, the episodes of the creation ancestors and the Dreamings. They describe the geography of the sites and events that happened during the creation era when the land was changed from a formless mass into the earth as we know it today by Beings with supernatural powers. These Ancestors set down the laws, religion and social structure through songs, dances and artistic designs and which the people still live by today.
This creation era is known as the Tjukurrpa or Dreaming. The Dreaming however, is not only of a time past, it is a continually evolving process. These paintings incorporate elements which have been told for generations with things that are still happening today.
There are many places where different Dreaming paths intersect. These places are often waterholes or places where there are resources for people to use. Large ceremonies would often be held at such places because many different people could gather together and celebrate the creation story of their totem. So, the Dreamings are associations of people with land, and associations with people and each other because sometimes people share the same Dreaming.
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