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Tommy (Yannima) Watson

Irika - 2015

synthetic polymer paint on canvas
301.0 x 182.0 cm
Price Realised: $91,500.00

MP #777


Yanda Art, NT Cat. No. TW201546
Private Collection, France

Pitjantjatjara elder Tommy Watson gained wide acclaim in an astonishingly short amount of time. His first works were created at the community arts centre in Irrunytju, 12 km south-west of the tri-state border where the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia meet. This was just 44 kilometres east of Anamarapiti, where he was born c.1935. Though he recalled visiting Papunya in his youth and observing the birth of the art movement there, he did not take up painting for another 30 years.


His debut at the 2002 Desert Mob exhibition in Alice Springs was followed by his participation in a series of group exhibitions from which his reputation gained momentum. His prominence as an artist of the highest renown was ultimately cemented when, in 2006, he was commissioned to create a permanent installation at Musee du Quai Branly, in Paris.

Grounded in his paintings are rockholes, mountain ranges, creekbeds, and important Dreaming sites created, according to the mythology of the region, during the major battle that took place between the White Cockatoo and the Eagle. In keeping with the depiction of Dreaming stories throughout the Western Desert, the landscape is rendered sacred and numinous through the actions of these mythic creator beings during its formation.