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Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri

Rockholes and Country near the Olga's - 2007

synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen
97.0 x 212.0 cm
Price Realised: $48,800.00

MP #697


Watiyawarnu Artists, Mount Leibig, NT Cat. No 81-06118
High on Art, Melbourne Vic Cat. No HOA0694
Dr Paul Sutherland Collection, NSW


Bears artist's name, title, dimensions, and Watiyawarnu Artists' Cat No. verso

Bill Whiskey did not begin painting on canvas until entering the last four years of his life at 84 years of age, by which time he was widely renowned as a powerful healer and keeper of sacred knowledge. His paintings are imbued with authority and steeped in tradition.


This painting depicts the mythic battle related in the Cockatoo Dreaming that occurred at his birthplace, Pirupa Alka near Uluru. During the battle, white feathers were scattered about the landscape which was indented when the entangled combatants crashed into the ground repeatedly. Subterranean streams filled these impressions with water and a circular amphitheatre was created by the sweep of wings. Today, a large, central, glowing white rock signifies the fallen cockatoo, still sipping the life-giving water from the sacred pools. In keeping with the depiction of Dreaming stories throughout the Western Desert, the mythic and numinous is inherent within the sacred geography.

In this painting, 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.