Details & Cataloguing

Aboriginal Art


Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi circa 1920-1987
Bears Stuart Art Centre consignment number 17010 on the reverse
Synthetic polymer/powder paint on composition board
40cm by 33cm
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Painted at Papunya, Northern Territory, probably in April/May 1972
Consignment number 17, painting no. 10 to the Stuart Art Centre, Alice Springs
Private collection, Adelaide
Sotheby’s Fine Aboriginal and Contemporary Art, 17 June, 1996, lot 53
Sotheby’s, Aboriginal Art, 26 June 2000, lot 35 (AU640)
Private collection


Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 August - 12 November 2000
Origins of Western Desert Art: Tjukurrtjanu, National Gallery of Victoria, An NGV Touring Exhibition, 30 September 2011 – 12 February 2012, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne; 9 October 2012 – 20 January 2013, Musée du quai Branly, Paris


Perkins and Fink, Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius, AGNSW, 2000, p.44, illus.
Geoffrey Bardon, Papunya: A Place Made After The Story, Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 2004, p.468, illus.
Ryan and Batty, Origins of Western Desert Art: Tjukurrtjanu, NGV, 2011, p.233, illus.

The work was originally acquired by Pat Hogan's assistant at the Stuart Art Centre, Alice Springs, where she was employed in many capacities, including producing the annotated diagrams on certificates. She remembers this work having a story about sandhills.

This painting is sold with a photocopy of the original annotated drawing of the work from the Stuart Art Centre's archive, which indicates that the painting represents many spears used by men to build a safe camp, together with an accompanying document regarding the painting with an annotated diagram and an interpretation of the imagery depicted, by Geoffrey Bardon.

Catalogue Note

Shorty Lungkata was an intensely traditional man and a highly regarded ceremonial leader. He hailed from the Gibson Desert that covers an area larger than that of England. It is one of the most remote regions in Australia. Lungkata spoke no English and he was one of the last artists to join the original men’s painting group at Papunya in 1971 where he translated the sacred designs found in the ceremonial realm, painted onto people’s bodies or drawn in the sand, onto portable supports for the public domain.

Paintings such as this relate to the Tingari ancestors who endowed the peoples of the western deserts of Australia with the civilising attributes of language, law and culture. Their teachings are of an esoteric nature and continue to inform young initiates in ceremonies to this day. As such, little is divulged publically but the supernatural powers of the Tingari are alluded to in paintings such as Sandhill Dreaming. Ostensibly this picture depicts a sand hill in plan view, a visual synecdoche for the endless expanses of sand dunes across the Gibson Desert. The sides of the sandhill are scarred by wind to form a ridge that runs vertically down the composition. The power of the work, however, lies in its evocation of a landscape that hums with the presence of ancestral forces through the rhythms created by the alternating lines of dots and white arcs that create a visually pulsating surface.

The significance of this work in the history of the Papunya painting movement is evidenced by the fact that it was shown in both seminal exhibitions of the art of Papunya: in Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, in 2000, and in Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in 2011, and at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris, in 2012-13.


Aboriginal Art