Linda Syddick Napaltjarri
The Witch Doctor and the Windmill
Synthetic Polymer Paint on Belgium Linen
183 x 122 cm
When Linda was about eight years old she and her family walked out of the Gibson Desert to Haasts Bluff in the Northern Territory. They walked up and down, up and down, over sand hills, shown in the background as lines, as well as clay pans and two roundels that are rock holes in the desert landscape.
When the group reached a place called Umari, near Mount Leibig they saw a windmill, which created a big pond of water.
Linda's stepfather Shorty Lankata Tjugurrayi knew what it was as he had been working for the Army during the war. He explained to the rest of the family that it was a windmill. “It's for water. It brings the water out of the ground. We can drink it.” So they all had a drink and it was very good. But when the Warlpiri witch doctor, who arrived later, saw it towering above him with its arms flailing around, making lots of noise, he shouted “Tjulju Tjulju” (Devil devil) and threw his spears at the windmill. Linda's step-father tried to explain it to the old man and offered him a drink of the water from his coolamon. “No! No!” said the old man, “Its Tjulju and the water is poison, I won't drink that water.” After a lot of talking he finally calmed down and took a drink of water. Because the incident was so dramatic, Linda remembers it in every detail, and loves to paint and tell the story. In this painting, Linda shows the windmill as it would appear to the witch doctor - frightening and menacing. The two figures are people who were not there, but are always in her memory, the spirits of her father and young brother Tjarli Tjungurrayi. These spirits are indicative of the traditional life the family left behind when they walked out of the desert.
Commissioned by Hugh Warden, Gundooee Aboriginal Art, NSW;
Private Collection, NSW.
Accompanied by a suite of 7 colour photographs of the artist producing the painting (6) and with the finished work (1), and a hand-written story and schematic diagram interpreting the work’s iconography.
23rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA), Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern
Territory, Darwin, NT, 2006.
Accompanied by a copy of the exhibition catalogue.
Winner; General Painting Award, 23rd NATSIAA, 2006.
Accompanied by the original General Painting Award certificate conferred on the artist.