Dr George Ward Tjapaltjarri is one of Australia's most significant Aboriginal artists. During his life he was revered as a ngangkari, a medicine man or ‘clever’ man, possessing exceptional knowledge and healing skills. He was one of the original Papunya group of elders who came together to initiate what became the Australian contemporary Aboriginal art movement.
This is the transcript of an interview conducted in Alice Springs in the late 1990s between Dr George Tjapaltjarri, Peter Bartlett & translator Smithy Zimeran.
Property of Gallery Gondwana ©Gallery Gondwana
Reproduced with permission of Gallery Gondwana
Unless otherwise marked = Dr George Ward Tjapaltjarri
PB = Peter Bartlett
SZ = Smithy Zimeran
SZ: Where were you born?
I was born. They took me past Tjunti. From Tjunti we went to Nyarruri. They kept me. They were sending out for special tribute meat.
I was lying down at Nyarruri. I was lying down then I got up. I went to Wanpurrutintja. Yes.
That song is too dangerous. I don't want to sing.
This song that I was travelling. Snake. Death Adder. They slept. They talked. Talking.
(Begins singing song about two snakes.)
That was Nyarruri.
(Continues singing song about two snakes talking dreaming - Tingarri.)
Two men dreaming were sitting at Tjimili and I was born at Wanpurrutintja.
They gave me medicinal power at the salt lake Wanpurrutintja. They opened my body to give me medicinal power. This one! (Shows birthmark on his stomach) From Dreaming! Wanpurrutintja! They opened me up and chucked it away. See!
After they chucked me I was lying there and I became a child. There my mother got me.
My mother. No fire. (Mothers name was Waruwiya). She's there at Wanpurrutintja.
Yes, I was born at the sandhill
On the edge. In desert oak country. Salt lake country.
Salt lake country. Desert oak country.
I got to many salt lake. Wanpurrutintja.
PB: Little one. Young fella
PB: Where did you walk?
Wait! Ha ha! I Was born.
SZ: He said he was born in?
I was born at Wanpurrutintja.
I was their young fella. I was there at Wanpurrutintja.
I became young fella there. Man.
PB: What other places?
Yes, when little. No. One! No only one!
My place. My own place. Wanpurrutintja!
Born there. Became man there.
I was stopping around there.
I was walking around. I was sitting there. I was walking around young man.
SZ: He grew up and he became a man around that area.
Yes! Yeah. Right there.
PB: That water is right through?
Laughter Ha Ha. Underground Wanpurrutintja!
No get away. Really deep down the steps of the well.
My place is different
Underground! Whistling Whuhuu.
No get away. No white people get away. Nothing!
Yeah, soakage. When I put the meat outside like a servant man. I put it down and climbed down the ladder (Aboriginal ladder called Tjukalpa made from the main limb of a tree with the protruding branches cut off so as to form steps down a well)
I bend down and drink
I drink water here.
I was looking and I could see black under the hole.
Like whiskers. In Wanpurrutintja.
PB: Big water.
Yeah. Big water
Here it is lying. It's been cracked open here.
Its like whiskers.
PB: ln the rock?
lnside limestone country. lnside!
SZ: lnside limestone country.
Death adder there! Death adder there! Ahh!
Death adder there. Right here. Yeah.
Death adder there and water here.
I always drink here.
This one's water. Like that. The water is here.
PB: Before white people?
SZ: No white people.
No white people. No white people I saw there.
Only I put a mark. Only I put a mark on the ground. Clear ground.
With a white fella boss from Canberra. To much!
I didn't see him. Poor bugger. I saw Jeremy Long. That one now. Jeremy Long Alright. You there.
I will look at it with a helicopter. Poor bugger.
I didn't see him. I only visited Ngunyarma, Ngulluntja. They have seen it, people from Kiwirrkurra.
Right over there, there through Ngulluntja they went.
My country again.
Tingarri burnt him. Ngullantja. Ngulluntja got burnt and Ngunyarma got burnt down.
For my father and me.
PB: What language does he talk Luritja, Pintupi, Pitjantjatjara?
Yeah Ah burnt it. Not a Pitjantjatjara! Not a Pitjantjatjara! Luritja!
Pintupi language. Keeping it for a long time.
SZ: Is Walpiri Pintupi?
Burnt out area. lnside. Underground. Ngunyarma got burnt.
PB: Really Pintupi?
Yeah Yeah. No Ngatinjarra. Ngatinjarra. Mantalanjarra. We talk Luritja.
Keep one language Luritja not Pitjantjara.
PB: Whats the difference between Pintupi and Luritja?
SZ: They talk Pintupi and Luritja. They learned a lot of Luritja when they went to Papunya.
SZ: They still use their own language Pintupi? PB: But really true Pintupi? SZ: Yes?
SZ: Pintupi tribe?
Whole lot, we sit down one language Pintupi.
PB: That's why those belonging to the art gallery were worrying because they asked him "Do you speak Pintupi?" and he answered "I talk Luritja."
SZ: Luritja Pintupi talk these two?
These two Luritja, Pintupi.
PB: Okay which one is first. Pintupi first and Luritja?
Ah, Pintupi first one and Luritja second language after.
PB: When he was growing up?
SZ: Yes Pintupi? PB: Yes Pintupi. SZ Second language Luritja? PB: Pintupi first. SZ: Yes?
PB: And Luritja second. What was it like. They want to know what was life like then long time ago when he was at that borning site. Where he grew up. SZ: Like what? White people want to know how you went in the bush when you grew up. Did you have a good life?
SZ: When you grew up?
Yes l was living. I was sitting since I was small.
When I was little one I was sitting, sitting.
We used to get goanna and other things.
We used to get bush tucker.
Tjunma and Kalanpa. Tjunma Kalanpa. Like Mala (Rufus hair wallaby).
I used to get bush tucker when I was a boy. I grew up on those meat.
I grew up on those meat. I used to spear Tarnga (Small Kangaroo)
SZ: Tjunma, that one. Tjunma, Tarnga, Kanpi, Mingalpa. Mingalpa, what do they call the other one?
Wallaby, not Wallaby, what's its name. Putujurru.
SZ: Putujurru and what's the other one?
Putujurru, Tjunma, Kalanpa.
SZ: Kalanpa now what is it?
See Pintupi say Kuluwarri. Silent it makes no sound, only like this.
He makes a camp on the flat ant bed and then sleeps inside the spinifex.
SZ: I have heard about that Kalanpa.
Yes. ln pintupi Kuluwarri.
See only I know it. Holding it.
I grew up on Kuluwarri, on Windarunya (Large rat like mammal)
On Nyinmyi and on Minni Minni (Mouse) and Nyirringka (Small mammal like rat)
On Kuniya. On Putujurru. Kalantja, Kalanypa. On Tarrnga.
I grew up on my own. We used to chase them and get them.
Yes! For me I grew up and was still getting it, big one now. Ahhhh.
I got bigger boy. I used to chase Kangaroo and get them.
Kangaroo! Too much kangaroo. Tyuu Tyuu (making sound like bullet or spear).
PB: What about with a spear?
Yes, with a spear. I was spearing with a spear. Tyuu Tyuu, umpff.
Right through. Killed them all.
Around Kulkuta. Around Karrku. Around Maya.
Around Kaarrin and around Wanpurrutintja.
North going to Jupiter Well. Kangaroo I used to spear.
I grew up. I was eating kangaroo and got middle aged.
Yeah! Around Jupiter Well. It's there in the bush. (Big laughter)
I got a special hair string around my neck and a ceremonial club. Yes!
SZ: After sitting around Jupiter were you living around Kiwwikurra?
Yes for a long time I was wandering around.
North. There around, around Runkarratjunku and around Yunala.
I really grew up around Yunala.
Wandering around! grew up, around Yunala. Yes!
On my own country I became man. At Wanpurrutintja. I am here.
SZ: East side?
West. Yes. On my own country.
At Wanpurrutintja, right here I became man.
PB: Were there lots of Aboriginal people look after? SZ: Were there plenty of Aboriginal people?
Too much! Too many, like leaves.
Big mob sat around. People from everywhere.
From the ridge country. They have all gone to Jigalong. Hmmm
Lots of them. Big mobs sitting. ln the bush.
Revenge warriors used to go after each other. Twwuuu. (Makes sound of spear)
Revenge warriors. Oh nooo!
All the Pintupi revenge warriors go up to each other and spear each other.
They used to go to the north. Poor bugger. On the side of the sand dunes.
There another one at Irrimatitja.
Ahhh! All the naked people used to go after each other. (Big laugh)
SZ: From there you lived around Kiwiikurra?
I always been living there until I got old.
SZ: Around Karrku?
I was living around Kiwiikurra.
Yes! Wait, wait wait! Around Wala Wala.
Around Yunala. Around Karrilwarra and around Winparku.
Yumarri to, all along there. Right up Karrku.
Pinarri. Around Pinarri, Marrpurri around.
Starts to sing song. Tingarri about Marrpurri.
SZ: Through Parrayirpil?
Yes! Through Parrayirpil I was walking around little one.
Me win. All through Pitjinjana country, Special ceremony. Me there.
I went across through Tika Tika. Through Patjarr.
When I was a child. Yes! When I was a little one. Poor bugger! hunted anything. All sorts of bush tucker I gathered.
Tjalinpa, Tjalyi (Small mammal and bird) and bush seeds (big laugh).
SZ: Cool drink?
Grass seeds. Grass seeds I used to eat everything.
Something like bush gooseberry. Bush tomato. Bush sultana.
See! Everything! Bush tomato and bush gooseberry and bush plum.
I grew up. Yes, that's all!
PB: Were you hungry all the time?
SZ: Did you live hungry in the bush?
No! We used to have plenty of food. Grass seeds, bush tomato, bush gooseberry and bush plums.
All the way we ate along. Even in cold weather.
Bush tomato and bush gooseberry.
Bush tomato and bush gooseberry and honey ants. (Big laugh)
We used to have Lunkunpa, Tjipirrinpa, Minyina, Lunkunpa.
(Naming acacia seed trees. Minyina = Acacia adsturgens)
Every thing! Wangunu, Kalparri. Everything we used to eat!
See! After eating good tucker we grew older. Hmmm. Yes!
SZ: After that?
After that back to Jupiter Well. Hey, back to Jupiter Well.
I stayed from Nguti. We got up and went this way and we heard.
"Ha! Somebody is making a noise. Might be white fella!"
We sneaked up and saw. Here they are sitting around.
That one there is a real white man and that one there is someone else.
One bloke got up and ran towards us.
He came and took us to the camp.
He said in Luritja. Paltjal Jagamarra. He was feeding them. Yes!
And took us and showed us how to cook damper. Finish!
He's there. You mob. All the family. All you Pintupi people.
Right there. There's a rope.
PB: What about where he was made man. SZ: Where were you made man?
Yes! Over there. Hey Tjapaltjarri. Over there. Man. Over there near Yankaltjunku. (Big laugh)
SZ: On that side. People live that side?
I am talking to here. Yes. I got man over there.
SZ: And he went back to the Kiwirrkurra arca.
We all got man at Yankaltjunku. South.
That's all. No more!
PB: Where did he first start to do dreamings. Learning painting not European way, Aboriginal way. When he was little? SZ: When did you start painting?
PB: No! Not European way. Aboriginal way? SZ: Aboriginal way in the bush?
ln the bush, Yes Yes. ln the bush.
SZ: Not painting way.
Not painting way. Another way.
SZ: With down way. Where?
Yes with down. Over there in the bush at Wanpurratinja.
PB: Who taught you?
Haa. When I was in a ceremony, when I was young. Yes. Another way with down. Laugh Yes! Whole lot. Even Walapai (Tjungarri) there.
PB: Could anyone paint along time ago. SZ: Did anyone make any painting. PB: Or really hard law.
Really hard one.
SZ: Only dream time paintings on the rock. Circles.
Yes on rock that's all. No painting. Dangerous one. Hmmmm
PB: From what were they dangerous? SZ: Not allowed? Why didn't you paint. Dangerous?
You right. l'll die if I say something.
SZ: You're alright, you won't die, this is only dreaming.
They make painting like that one on the rock. Paint it Good.
PB: What about if men caught children mucking around. What from. Might be fight? SZ: Young people never made any paintings. Nothing?
PB: Might be made sick.
Another way. They learnt in ceremonial camp?
SZ:That's alright. Just leave it
Yes, just leave it.
SZ: Young people can only be taught by the elders. lf he learns by himself he's going to be a dead person.
SZ: That's why he is asking.
When I was young fella. No knowledge! Used to wander around spinifex. Yeah, true I am telling. I just went around.
SZ: From there did you first see white men in Jupiter Well?
Yeah I saw that one in Jupiter Well. They kept us when they found us, at my place Jupiter Well. This is now today I have got no brother at Kiwirrkurra, I have got no father. Kanya and I. Their now all over.
PB: What was Jupiter Well's Aboriginal name?
No No No No Puntutjarpa. Puntutjarpa. Same place Jupiter Well. That's it, that’s Jupiter Well now. Puntutjarpa Finish. Puntutjarpa
SZ: Puntutjarpa. Nyinmi?
Long way. That's where that rainbow serpent snake went in.
SZ: That's okay. Puntutjarpa is Jupiter Well and Nyinmi on the eastern side.
Nyinmi eastern side.
PB: When did Tjapaltjarri become traditional healer? SZ: When did you become a traditional healer? Was it in the bush?
Yes, right in the bush I became a traditional healer at Wunpurrutintja from little boy. Yes, from little one I became a healer. I had the magical healing power from when I was a little boy. Doctor right here at Wunpurrutintja. You there. See. it became bigger and bigger. Initiated man. That was it
SZ: Healing power.
Healing power. Yes.
If you hit it, it will make a big noise. Hmmmm, hit something with it. You can hit an evil spirit.
SZ: From Jupiter Well to the East?
SZ: White people looked after you?
Sitting down. We got up and went back this way and all the white people followed behind us and we got frightened and ran away through the desert oaks. We camped in the bush and we came back and saw they had put a long rope tied to a bucket at the Well and I tried it and I threw the rope down the Well. I chucked the drum with the long rope and got a lot of water. In a big bucket! used to get water from the depths that way.
SZ: With a bucket.
With a bucket everything with a wire. A big bucket. I tried it. That's it. No worries. Got it. That's it, it's going to eat me.
(Crying sound made by GW)
I stepped on it!
White people said there is something inside and I said "Don't go in!"
SZ: Don't anyone go in.
Yes I stepped on it and passed the billycans outside. I stepped on it and it was moving around. They dug the well and they saw it lying there.
I throw all the billycan, bucket and flour drum. I look nothing further.
I went through a narrow (part of well) and got out.
I went down by myself to get those buckets and billycans.
There were no billycans on the surface, that's why I went in and got them. Inside Jupiter Well, Puntutjarlpa.
We were sucking the sweet exudant off the young desert oak. The white fellas were still there giving us flour
A man from Warburton with a broken finger (Tommy Dodd?)
I was making a damper. Making a damper with flour. Really Beautiful one.
PB: When you first met those Europeans?
You mob. All those Europeans found them at Jupiter Well.
PB: Where did they take him? Did they go to Yaya bore or Papunya?
SZ: Wait PB: Or he stayed out bush.
Yeah. Wait, don't get impatient. Those people always give damper and stuff. And I saw. Haaa Nyilunga (name of person he knew) Nyilunga from Nguti. I struck a branch of desert oak with sweet exudant and broke it off and picked it up and then I saw a team of Land Rovers with tents (canvas canopy)
Yeah Not a Land Rover but a big supply truck and it dropped off a motor car like an insect and it followed behind.
And he pulled up and said "My name is Nyilun Tjangala. Nyilun Tjangala."
(Making crying sound) And he pointed "This one is my place here. My place is right here. Nyuti Nyuti."
We parked the vehicles.
SZ: With the food?
With the food. There was lots of stuff, rice, other grains, tin meat and different jams. O Jingle's. It was spread out everywhere. Too much. We had an eastern shade and a western shade.
That Nyilun brought it for us. Spread it out. Hundred bags (one hundred pound bags of flour) Hundred bags. Nyilun threw it onto the ground. Then threw the loose bags of flour.
After unloading he left us.
SZ: Were you knowledgeable about damper.
Nothing, only me. This one here my son Katja taught me. Bloke from Warburton. Who was it? Who knew how.
SZ Tommy Dodd not him?
Who was it? What's his name?
SZ: Andrew Lawson?
Yeah! He taught me. Andrew Lawson. Tjungarri bloke.
"This is how you do it, like this. Do it this way. Cook it like this".
I made it. Big one exactly how he told me. Big one, not little one.
SZ: Looks like grass seed cake.
Before! We were eating raw flour. We used to tip the tea out too. Only tea. We used to chuck the black tea away.
Only drank water?
Hey Tjapaltjarri. We used to chuck the tea away and eat the sugar by itself. Carton of sugar.
We thought it was honey dew. I used to eat sugar and I am still here. Good one.
SZ: Yes from there where did you go
After sitting for a while I moved on eastward. I went east for good. To Tjuluya, Matatji and Wulyunjutjarra.
I went to Wulyuntjutjarra and I had a funny feeling about what I would see.
I saw a white man with a load. In the morning we went to Tjurlyamatatji.
And I said, Ahhh I saw Jeremy Long and Nosepeg was also there at Winparku.
They were all parked facing this way. Big truck with flour and stuff and Toyota (Landrover).
"Have a look. You mob have a look." Wala Wala
SZ: Which way is Tjurluyamatatji?
SZ: Yes east?
Here, Hmmm south side. There is a mallee tree, that's where it is on the soakage.
I went over and threw a spear. The spear broke. As I was walking and I grabbed a poison snake. I dug a hole. It was a really poisonous one and that snake was coming towards me under the ground.
I could see it and grabbed it. I grabbed it with two hands and I bit it on the head and then l heard a noise.
(Makes noise like a motor car)
I turned around and looked. Hello! Jeremy Long was coming. Coming close. He pulled up really close.
"Oh He might see me naked."
And Nosepeg said "It's us two Jupurrula's Nosepeg and Jeremy Long."
I shouldn't mention his name. Sorry,
SZ: Is alright?
Its okay. He's in heaven. Up there.
Another two here. Two brother in laws Jangala and Tjungarri and Walpiri one side - (Name of man). They pick them up and we went to Wala Wala.
We got off. We told other people and white people talk about going to Jupiter Well and Puntutjarpa. Pick them up.
I was looking slowly. The other people instead of going in were drawing water with a rope. Plenty rope, big rope. It's some where there. I hid it away.
SZ: After that.
From there. We sat down for a while. We got together. I picked up someone. I picked up one bloke near Yunala. We got together. We got ready to go to Wala Wala. We got together the people from Warburton. Got together. Hmmm, we camped overnight.
We hit the road Illpilli (Ehrenberg Ranges), Tjuka Nyina. (Sandy Blight Junction)
The other white people turned south to Warburton.
We camped at Ilpilli during the rain. We slept. It rained all night. He gave us blankets one by one. We covered ourselves and slept.
Next morning we got up and rolled our swags. We loaded our spears. Every thing else.
Mt Leibig. We got into Mt Leibig. We had a bit of an argument and spearing and then moved on.
One day and they said Papunya. And we saw Allumpara. And they showed us the Papunya ranges east. Closer we were looking. One night we made it from Wala Wala and camped at lllpili.
We camped. We saw Papunya settlement. As we came in we saw big mobs of houses.
They were all looking at us. All the dead people.
And one white bloke said "You have got to go back there" (To Jeremy Long)
They took us right back. They unloaded the flour and unloaded the spears, swag and all.
(to the camp)
PB: How long was he at Papunya?
Yes We got off at Papunya. They left us there.
SZ: How long were you at Papunya.
No we sit down long time.
SZ: Long Time
Long time. Here and here. Many years.
SZ: How long. Sixty Five, you people got bought in?
Yeah Sixty Five they bought us in, poor bugger.
SZ: From 65 he was there. This is how he is asking you?
SZ: Were you a long time in Papunya?
Yes, ha, we sit down long time. Tjapalyi
PB: Was he there in 71 when all the men started painting murals?
PB: Did you see the men starting painting? SZ: You people were there when they started painting in Papunya?
SZ: But you were not painting?
Yes. We saw it. It was good. We thought, ohh, we will make some painting too. They gave us painting board. Forever. We all started painting.
SZ: After living in Papunya where did you go?
We lived there for long time. It wasn't a long time. After living in Papunya I went to Docker River and with that one old Jungarri (Willie Nagampala) He took me to Docker River.
We got shifted. They moved us. All their whole lot. Docker River Warburton and Tjukula. Tjukula Finish. They shifted us and settled around Tjukula.
SZ: Kintore wasn't there?
Yes I was there when there was no Kintore. Around Docker River Around Warakurna.
PB: What was life like then at the community. Was it good? SZ: How did you feel when you got mixed up with many people from different communities.
No No Family to much. All Pintupi people moved in.
SZ: Were you living happily.
Yes we were living happily because there were lots of families. Tjukula, Warakurna mob, Warburton and Karrilwarri. Whole lot of people. Yes
SZ: What happened after you stayed there.
I stayed there. I then shifted to Warburton and then shifted back to Warakurna. I stopped there at Warakurna. Then lvan Shepard took me to Kintore.
SZ: Yes. PB: Did he worry about bush way or was he happy to go European way? SZ: Were you worried about your own country?
Yes I was worried about my own country. We got shifted whole lot. Kintore Kiwirrkurra mob all there. One outstation Moyen there, that's my uncle's place.
PB: Was he happy when every one started to shift back?
No one place. ln Kintore outstation.
SZ: Every one felt happy when they moved back to Kintore.
Yes we became friend at Papunya. Whole lot finish. All the Pintupi mob. All there. Moyen.
SZ: Stopping in Kintore?
Hmmm We stopped there for long time and come and worked. Kiwirrkurra people come here and worked. This one Tjagamarra married to Yukulji (Bush Napaljarri). We lived and we are going to live for a long time.
We sat down for a long time and the community talked about and the council talked. Yes, Today we are going to put some houses at Kiwirrkurra, Kintore and Moyen and they put me doctor.
Oh we got to put one doctor man. Number one. They got me at Kintore.
PB: When did he start at the clinic at Kintore or working as traditional healer at Papunya?
Yeah. Started off at Papunya and at Kintore.
SZ: He got a full time job at Kintore, then as a doctor?
PB: So he was just bush witchdoctor?
PB: And then they got him a job in the clinic.
Yes Yes. One man. Traditional Healer.
PB: At Papunya.
And at Kintore and Kiwwikurra and I learned to drive now.
Driver, me driver. All the doctors taught me how to drive. Poor bugger.
Finish him up my work, Kintore.
ln the clinic we both worked together and this one's the new one. I had two jobs. Old one (clinic) New one (clinic) At Kintore. My work.
PB: Any stories about that. SZ: Your job was traditional healer?
SZ: And you used to go to Kiwwikurra too?
SZ: Well tell it.
Yes. You got to listen Tjapaltjarri. I got to tell you.
Outstation Ngutjul, Tinki Outstation, Pinpirringa. Yeah I drive off this direction. To lninti. Go back Moyen, Mantardi come back. I was one man driver. Bandages and everything. Foot bandages.
PB: What about boning stick?
PB: From boning stick?
Yeah I know I am knowledgeable.
Even needle. Even kill'em needle (anaesthetic). Every thing. We winner. Conway (Tjapangardi), Eric (Tjagamarra). We working. I am one traditional healer.
SZ: After doing all this work where did you go?
I went to Kiwwikurra.
SZ: No more Kintore doctor. Nothing?
No I still worked as a doctor in two places,
I go to Kintore work. Come back. Kintore to Kiwwikurra I go there and then come back. From Kintore I go there and work and then come back.
At Kiwiikurra I have two jobs. From there, there. I always look after Kintore too. Always Kintore and all the doctors call me. To Kiwwikurra I come.
SZ: And then?
I always worked a long time. I worked and worked. They gave me motor car.
SZ: They gave you motor car?
They gave me motor car. They gave me bus, last one they gave me a Toyota. Sister's Toyota.
That's the one that was left at Mangi. Yes They gave it to me. Money. They bought it with money for me and they just gave it to me. Me worker.
PB: That's when the bush mob came in? SZ Were the bush mob found the same time?
I heard about them when I was living at Kintore.
Yes. They came in footwalk. They chased them north. He shot at them. Sorry I cant mention his fathers name. Nyilarri's father. Near Winparku (Mt Webb W.A.) There is a tank there.
SZ: At Winparku?
Near Kunamanarra. Right there the old fella fired the shots. Only smoke came out. The bullet could have got into me.
SZ: You heard about them from Kintore?
I heard about it from Kintore, they were chasing north. There near Marruwa, east of Marruwa.
They talked on the radio "They have found them". East of Marruwa. I went and saw them.
"Ahh here they are. People are looking after them."
Poor bugger. This many were sitting down. These two old ladies and three women and this one, this manny (four) Hmmm There is one somewhere still in the bush. Walawala and Walinpirri and Pensioner (Thomas). This one somewhere.
SZ: Yes and then?
We got them and kept them at Kiwikurra. Not Kiwikurra. I moved to Kintore. We got a house, they gave it to me. They gave me a house at Kintore. That's it.
PB: Ask him when did he first start painting on canvas? SZ: First time where did you start painting?
At Papunya. ln Papunya, the white bloke used to follow us around, gave us painting board. ln Papunya.
SZ: At Kintore?
Hmmm At Yaya bore.
PB: Kakali bore.
Besides Kakali bore. No, what's that south of Kakali bore.
llampia, Waluwiyi, Yinyilingi. He used to follow us around and do painting and get our tucker.
SZ: And then you shifted to Kintore you already knew how to paint?
Yes I knew how to paint.
PB: Who started you painting on paintboard?
Yeah we started from Papunya.
SZ: Who gave you the knowledge?
One white man and saw other. Me. Ohhh, this is how they do it, and we started a different way, Tingarri Dreaming for painting.
PB:Which European SZ: Geoff Bardon?
Yes, Geoff Bardon. Hmm. Good one we used to paint.
SZ: Still painting today?
Still painting today! But now today is really top painter. This one. The art gallery is on top. Somewhere there is another one sitting on top. Somewhere in Melbourne and Canberra.
PB: When he first started what was he doing dreamings or snakes?
Yeah Snake and dreaming and fire burnt out area.
SZ: That your own dreaming?
Yeah I am doing my own dreaming through Wanpurrutintja. Through Wanpurrutintja. Through Nguluntja and through Ngunyarrma we do our own.
The area burnt out by fire, it burnt all the men. Poor buggers. They all got burnt dream time.
PB: Okay what's his favourite painting. Main one? SZ: Whats your main painting?
SZ: Main painting whats the main one?
Fire dreaming we do, where it got burnt out one.
PB: What from?
Fire. Woodfire wood fire.
PB: Why did he paint that? SZ That's his own story. PB: Ask him why. SZ: They can't touch it anyone. that's his own story. He ask you a question. That's why I am asking you. You tell him this is my own story.
Dreaming. My work. Own dreaming and Woma snake. Fire. All sorts I do, I make spears. See my country not other peoples country. Know all ways my own country. You see.
PB: He does a painting and it's got a lot of eggs, like eggs. Whats that one. SZ: Dreaming painting you do. Others look at it like an egg. What is that one?
SZ: Yes That's bush banana.
Yes that's bush banana. You know that yes?
SZ: Whats the place?
(starts singing about bush banana.)
SZ: What is the place. Dreaming or shield ceremony or some thing?
That's their song. They make balls. They do it. Not me no. Yunala.
SZ: Whats the dreaming at Yunala.
Yunala we make bush banana dreaming now. Yes we make Yunala.
SZ: Bush banana now that looks like an egg.
Yes shape like an egg. Yeah that is Yunala. Yunala food, poor bugger, I always eat it. Tjapali (PB That's the one that hangs on the tree. That's alright, we put that story down. Our own country.)
PB: See they say here that you have said they are men. Which men doing what. One time you told those women at the art gallery that they were men. SZ: No sometimes they are fruit. They are bush tucker. Man is just a round circle. Dreaming man they make circle.
Yunala. Bush banana.
SZ: Bush banana.
Bush banana same one that's all.
SZ: Sometimes they put Yams. PB: Yams SZ: Yams not Yala (species of yam). It grows in the mulga.
Katjutati yams not Yala, that's a big one.
SZ: Some times they make same shape. Yams bush banana.
That's good. That's it, Yeah. Yeah its really good.
SZ: Yunturrngu (synonym for bush banana)
Same again Walpurru (dangerous word) Yes this is our own tucker. Yes we put those one.
SZ :That grows on mallee trees?
Yes and on the sandhills they grow. Walpurru, that's what we put down on the painting.
PB: Any stories about that fire, any songs or stories? SZ: He's got a song for that. You got dreaming for that fire?
(Starts to sing)
Dreaming. They sit around at the salt lake. All the men, they got burnt. Fire dreaming. Dreaming. They got burnt.
(Starts singing song about fire dreaming) Yes that's my place Nguluntja.
Big laugh. That's alright, I was singing it. I put painting. Yeah. Big Laugh.
PB: Which place is this one? SZ: East
SZ: South of Jupiter well.
Jupiter Well that way and Nguluntja this way. Far. South. This one is closer. They all got burnt. Dreaming I said. Tingarri dreaming.
SZ: No that's all right, that's dreaming song.
Tjapiljani. They might think it's nothing. (Starts singing song again). That one got burnt. They were all burnt to death. Hmmm, yes. It's not a little one. If you ask me it’s a big one. You might think it's a small one. Big one. (Sings song again) The dreaming was walking around my place.
PB: Can anyone listen to that song?
Pintingkura (bird that lives on the clay pan or salt lake).
SZ: Yes that's for men PB: Women cannot. SZ: You cannot continue singing?
PB: That little bit can women hear it or only men?
Only for men. Yes
SZ: Women can hear? That's public?
From the camp.
SZ: Yes, even young men?
Over there at Nguluntja.
SZ: Can women hear it?
They always hear it. Dreaming. Hmmm
PB: So white people can hear it if they put it in the art gallery no one could get upset?
SZ: Don't sing it again.
Sorry I will leave it. I know. I sang one song for you. Nguluntja. Desert. They got burnt in the desert. There were flames everywhere. Too much dreaming.
Dangerous one. Can't touch him.
Only fire burnt them all, Tjapaltjarri.