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George Ward Tjungurrayi

Muruntji - 2003

synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen
183.0 x 244.0 cm
Price Realised: $34,160.00

MP #412


Papunya Tula Artists, NT Cat No. GW0305074
Utopia Art Sydney, NSW
Tjala Aboriginal Art, NSW
Cooee Art Gallery, NSW Cat No.13-11367
The Mike Chandler Collection, NSW


accompanied by a Papunya Tula certificate of authenticity


Collector’s Edition, August 2013, Cooee Art Gallery

Although they were born of different mothers, George Ward shared the same father with Yala Yala Gibbs and Willy Tjunurrayai. He arrived in Papunya in the early 1960s while still in his teenage years and worked as a fencer and butcher in the community kitchen. Beginning to paint in 1976, he initially assisted senior artists who worked within the tightly knit group of established Pintupi painters. The creation of large works during these early years of the Western Desert art movement involved many men at various levels of responsibility. For the younger ones, like George, it was an apprenticeship in the skills, knowledge and cultural obligations required for the artistic vocation and for eventual ceremonial leadership within his tribal area.


Though he was reputed to have completed several canvases during the early 1980s, he did not begin painting in earnest until after the death of his brother Yala Yala Gibbs in 1998. He rapidly developed his own style based on men’s designs used to adorn ceremonial artefacts including dance regalia with their mesmeric interlocking geometric and parallel linear patterning.

This painting depicts designs associated with the site of Kaakuratintja (Lake McDonald). In mythological times, a Tingari man visited this site before travelling west to Patantja. As he travelled he carried two Kuniya (pythons) with him. One large venomous snake also travelled west from Lake McDonald. According to Pintupi mythology, the Tingari travelled over vast stretches of the country, performing rituals and creating and shaping particular sites during the Dreamtime.