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Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri

Rockholes and Country near the Olga's - 2006

synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen
155.0 x 155.0 cm
EST. $25,000 - $35,000

MP #456


Watiyawarnu Art Centre, NT Cat No. 10-06999
Private Collection, NSW


accompanied by a Watiyawarnu Art Centre certificate of authenticity

Bill Whiskey's country lay to the north of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), hidden in some of the most arid and uncompromising land on the continent. He lived with his family for a time at Areyonga, before moving further north to settle at Amunturrngu (Mount Liebig), then an outstation of Papunya. He chose not to participate in painting until 2005, when in his mid 80s, he took up the brush.


While this is a compelling work depicting his country, it is intentionally cryptic. Specific information about the Dreaming is purposefully suffused in fields of ambiguous dots. Water places, such as Pirupa Akla are marked by sets of concentric circles, their dazzling presence representing their powerful life-giving significance, rather than their actual size. The actions of the White Cockatoo and Crow ancestors are encrypted as dotted patches that reference topographic features associated with the Dreaming. The depiction of country in this particular work conveys the distance between landmarks in Whiskey's country, where isolated water places are concealed among swathes of vegetation. Remaining true to the conduct of his ancestors, who had kept their distance from explorers, Whiskey protects the secrets of his country behind a veil of descriptive dotting and sections of white, indicating the refraction from shattered quartz and the smoke of signal fires.