PUKARA, 2009

Important Aboriginal Art
26 March 2014


born c.1952
PUKARA, 2009

synthetic polymer paint on canvas

130.0 x 200.0 cm

$12,000 - 18,000
Sold for $21,600 (inc. BP) in Auction 34 - 26 March 2014, Melbourne

Tjungu Palya Artists, South Australia (cat. 09027)
Marshall Arts, Adelaide
Private collection, Adelaide


Australian Aboriginal Art Magazine, issue 2 June/July/August 2009, p. 123 (illus.)

This painting is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Tjungu Palya Artists which states: 'Wati Kutjara Tjukurpa (the creation story for two serpent men). The two wanampi, father and his son travel from rockhole to rockhole around Wingellina. Kapi Piti (rockholes). The two men travelled from Pukara to Kuru Ala and Nyumu. Tali, punu munu tjampi (sand hills, trees and grasses). After rains the desert goes from red to really green. There is grass everywhere, Wati Kutjara pulkana nyananyi (the two men are happy in their country).'

Catalogue text

This is a dangerous place, Pukara. There is a wanampi here (water snake). Wanampi kutjara (two water snakes), father and son. The two snake men saw that the Anangu women were collecting bush foods. The son snuck back to where the food was at night and stole all the food the women had collected. They saw him and speared him in the side. Tjukurpa mulapa. This is a true story. The two snakes still live at this place. The two wanampi, father and son travel from rockhole to rockhole in country around Wingellina. Kapi piti (rockholes). The two men travelled from Pukara to Kuru Ala and Nyumu. This is red sand dune country with rockholes and small rocky outcrops.'1

Influenced by custodian tales and the seasons, Maringka Baker is celebrated for her meticulous aerial landscapes that juxtapose symmetry against asymmetry. There is a feeling of familiarity that can only stem from someone who knows these lands unequivocally, as displayed in Baker's vivid depiction of Pukara which narrates the Dreaming story of two water snakes who love their land but cause mischief amongst the community, particularly with the women. Like many of her compositions, this illustration is inspired by the seasons and the landscape that is rejuvenated after the rainfalls. Washing away the dust, green grass replaces the dry soil and the rockholes that are positioned over the canvas in a geometric fashion, brim with water. Renowned for her dexterity with colours, Baker explores the palette of her land. What some envisage as a desolate and dusty desert, Baker delights in illustrating a lush environment that changes with the seasons, observing the incomparable landscape of the Australian desert and the transformation brought on by rain.

Baker is a senior Pitjantjatjara artist, born at the important ceremonial site Kaliumpil in Western Australia, and now resides in Kanpi, a small community situated in the north west corner of South Australia. She is the custodian of several important Dreamings, demonstrating her knowledge through the application of rich colour and detailed brushwork. As one of Tjungu Palya's most prolific artists, Baker's work featured in the Australian Indigenous Art Triennial: Culture Warriors in 2007, held at the National Gallery of Australia and has been exhibited internationally, to much acclaim. The mosaic-like dots and parallel lines have become typical of Baker's sought after repertoire as each work is a journey into her land that is so evidently respected and revered.

1. Cited from the artwork certificate of a similar work by Maringka Baker, Pukara, in Raffan, J., Power and Colour: New Painting from the Corrigan Collection of 21st-Century Aboriginal Art, Macmillan, Melbourne, 2012, p. 298