Riilyki, Karlngaaka, Pegleg Mick, One Leg
Pegleg Tjampitjinpa was born in the Kiwirrkurra area c1920. He earned his nickname when an infected spear-wound from a tribal fight resulted, after four months of suffering and being carried by his father-in-law, in the loss of his leg from the knee down. He walked with the help of a long pole, which he used to propel himself forward in large strides. He and his family, including over a dozen children from his several wives, had no contact with Western Civilisation until 1957, when they encountered a Northern Territory Welfare Branch patrol, which eventually relocated the family to Papunya. In 1996, during a visit to his lifelong friend Pinta Pinta Tjapanangka in Kintore, he started painting works reminiscent of the first Papunya Tula artists, focusing on Tingari designs in a limited pallette of reds, blacks and whites. Soon after, owing to his poor eyesight and following the death of Pinta Pinta, Pegleg entered a hiatus until an eye operation in the late 1990’s restored his sight and he could resume painting. In 2000 Pegleg was included in the landmark exhibition at the AGNSW, Papunya Tula - Genius and Genesis. He is represented in major public and private collections throughout Australia and overseas. At the time of his death in 2006, Pegleg Tjampitjinpa was at least 85 years old.
Pegleg’s works first appeared at public auction in 2003, when two small Papunya Tula provenanced works were offered for sale through Sotheby’s. However, this artist rarely painted for PT as evidenced by the fact that of the more than 40 works offered for sale since that time, only one was painted for the art centre.
The most impressive works to have appeared on the secondary market were championed by Lawson Menzies( Menzies) between 2004 and 2007. Understandable, as he passed away in 2006 and painted principally outside of Papunya Tula whist living in the Pintupi settlement at Kintore.
In 2004 L~M established his benchmark at $18,000 with a work created for Alice Springs art dealer Steve Nibbs and sold originally through Kimberley Art Gallery in Melbourne. This is still his second highest sale on public record. By the end of 2005 Lawson~Menzies had offered 11 of the 17 paintings that had appeared at auction.
Pegleg’s $45,600 record was set by Lawson~Menzies following his death in 2006, when a 151 x 183 cm work was offered with a resale estimate of $40,000-50,000 in 2007.
Overall, 41 works had been offered at auction by the end of 2017, of which 59% (24) sold for an average price of $6,946. Only 13 works had appeared since the demise of Lawson~Menzies’ Aboriginal Art Department at the end of 2007, yet there are known to be a number of fine examples in private hands. Many were painted for the ubiquitous Chris Simon, who provided the artist with the conditions and materials to paint masterworks on a grand scale. Sotheby’s may not touch them, but when they do come up for sale, expect Pegleg’s records to tumble.