Tommy Watson Paintings

Tommy Yannima Watson, Pitjantjatara artist, b.1935 near Irrunytju Western Australia, paints intense colour works of ancestral country.


Umutju by Tommy Watson

Tommy Watson  |  Umutju

Jap 016336  |  acrylic on linen  |  200 x 117 cm

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Wind Dreaming by Tommy Watson

Tommy Watson  |  Wind Dreaming

Jap 012895  |  acrylic on linen  |  119 x 89 cm

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Pukara by Tommy Watson

Tommy Watson  |  Pukara

Jap 013291  |  acrylic on linen  |  60 x 60 cm

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My Country by Tommy Watson

Tommy Watson  |  My Country

Jap 013288  |  acrylic on linen  |  60 x 60 cm

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Tommy Yannima Watson is a major Pitjantjatara artist, born about 1935 in desert country west of Irrunytju, or Wingellina, in Western Australia. Tommy is a Law man of Karima skin group, and his traditional names of Yannima and Pikarli relate to specific sites near his birthplace at Anumarapiti, west of Irrunytju.

Tommy Watson’s parents and uncle died when he was young, so he was adopted by Nicodemus Watson, his father’s first cousin. Tommy went to live at Ernabella Mission, and took the surname Watson in addition to his Aboriginal birth name, thus becoming Tommy Yannima Pikarli Watson.

As a young man Tommy learned the bush skills of hunting and gathering, living off the land around Ernabella, the Musgrave Ranges and further to the Petersham Ranges. In these years his knowledge of the country was deeply embedded with both the physical and spiritual meanings of the land.

Tommy Watson first met white people at Ernabella Mission in the 1940s, then moved to a life in the bush until adult years when he worked as a stockman and labourer on cattle stations. Later in his mid 60s, Tommy Watson began painting at Irrunytju art centre with a small group of artists who set up there in 2001.

Yannima Tommy Watson became quickly recognised for his powerful use of colour and energetic canvases, which were exhibited in Alice Springs at Desert Mob and in Darwin at the Telstra NATSIAA Art Awards. His work became highly collectable and his reputation continued to strengthen. In 2006 he was among eight Aboriginal artists whose work was integrated into the Musee du quai Branly building in Paris.


  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
  • Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
  • Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
  • Musee du Quai Branly, Paris
  • Laverty Collection
  • Stokes Collection
  • Corrigan Collection