Feature Artist: Thomas Tjapaltjarri

Posted in Art Gallery, Front Highlights, News, Paintings

Feature Artist: Thomas Tjapaltjarri

Thomas Tjapaltjarri and The Tingari Cycle


Thomas Tjapaltjarri was born somewhere around 1964 in the Gibson Desert, Western Australia. Thomas and his family have one of the most extraordinary stories out of all the artists to emerge from Kiwirrkurra. The family – Thomas, Warlimpirrnga, Walala, Yukultji, Yalti and Tjakaria were dubbed “The Last Nomads”or “The Group of Nine” (according to news headlines at the time), led a completely nomadic life until they emerged from the desert. At age 20, in 1984, Thomas walked out of the desert to Kiwirrkurra with his family, the amazing part was that they had no contact with Western society or non- Aboriginals until this point. Even more wondrous, after living traditionally for 20 years he still managed to become one of the most sought-after artists in his region.




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Thomas’s works explore the stories of the Tingari Cycle – a creation story. The Pintupi people believed that in the beginning the earth was flat and their Tingari ancestors travelled the desert performing rituals, teaching law, creating landforms and shaping what would become ceremonial sites.

Thomas paints simple, geometric designs and uses a dotting technique, characteristic of Pintupi style, and pigments which are often restricted to four basic colours of black, red, yellow and white. It is a technique shared with other Pintupi artists such as Thomas’s brothers and also with George Ward Tjungurrayi.

Waradah gallery stocks a comprehensive collection of Tingari paintings.