Lake Mackay (& the Tingari Cycle), 2005
Walala and his family walked out of the desert in 1984 and are often referred to as “The Last of the Nomads”. Like the famous Jimmy Pike from the Great Sandy Desert once said “You call it desert, we call it home.”
The subject of this painting is associated with a Jukurrpa (Dreaming) event in the Tingari Cycle, which is related to the site of Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay) in Western Australia. It was here that two old Tingari men were hunting Marlu (Kangaroo) by way of burning the surrounding spinifex country with fire sticks, to flush out their game. The Marlu were eventually pursued all the way north to Derby in the Kimberley region, via Balgo Hills and Halls Creek.
The series of white rectangles represents the sediment of Lake Mackay, a huge salt water lake in which the water evaporates leaving vast stretches of clay pan fringed by salt. Within this area exists rocky outcrops and rockholes, in which the family would find water and bush foods, depicted here by the group of yellow and red ochre rectangles. After periods of rain, rockholes become catchment areas, which act as vital sources of water. In this painting Walala has depicted this formation by the yellow ochre rectangle. It was this region that Walala and his family travelled through, their traditional country, avoiding integration with other Pintupi and Euro-Australians alike.
As the events associated with the Tingari Cycle are of a secret and sacred nature no further details were given. Generally, the Tingari are a group of Jukurrpa (Dreaming) ancestors who traveled enormous stretches of the country, performing rituals which helped create the particular land formations of the various sites. The Tingari men were usually accompanied by novices and followed by the Tingari Women. Their travels and adventures are enshrined in song cycles, which today are important aspects of the investiture teachings of the post initiatory youths, as well as providing explanations for contemporary customs.
Region: Kiwirrkurra (Gibson Desert), WA
Walala began abstracting the classical Pintupi designs, creating a highly graphic language to speak of his country and ceremonial sites. The rectangles so prominent in his paintings form both a physical and spiritual map…