Tjungu Palya means working together in a good and happy way. At our art centre, artists from the three communities of Kanpi, Nyapari and Watarru come together to paint to earn money to support their families.
In the past 8 years since its incorporation in 2006, Tjungu Palya has grown to be a dynamic and innovative community art centre. Located about 100 km south of Uluru (Ayres Rock), Nyapari is set at the base of the majestic Mann Ranges in the heart of country traditionally owned by the Pitjantjatjara people. These ranges known to Anangu as Murputja, likening the mountain to the bony ridge of a person’s spine, are the source of many water holes and traditional camping places. The homelands of Kanpi, Nyapari, Watarru, Angatja, Umpukulu and Tjankanu have grown from these seasonal camping places into permanent settlements. Over fifty artists from Murputja joined together with family members living in traditional country 180 km to the south at Watarru and created Tjungu Palya, which translates as Good Together and refers to this collaboration between the homelands.
Tjungu Palya is an Aboriginal owned and governed art enterprise, where 60% of sales income is returned to the artist and the remaining 40% reinvested in their art centre business. The art centre plays a vital economic role in the future sustainability of these small communities. Its financial strength enables the artists to support community development through projects such as the Thunderboys, a local band of five young men, an aged care and lunch program, governance training and cultural maintenance. The motivation for building up the business of the art centre is to increase the capacity for Anangu to positively take control of their lives.
All the senior members of Tjungu Palya lived a traditional life, travelling in small family groups across the Western Desert. A dynamic landscape, which sustained Anangu both spiritually and physically. “Whitefellas” came to this country relatively recently, well within memory of many artists. The remoteness of these communities has contributed to the maintenance of an Aboriginal lifestyle rich in ceremonies and traditional observances. These artists have a deep connection to country, which is expressed with integrity, beauty and a bold creativity in the canvas paintings as traditional stories of the ancestors journeys are retold. Each painting depicts a fragment of a larger story, a living history where an ancestor was involved in creating country. These spirit men and women from the Tjukurpa are still living in this desert landscape and have an ongoing relationship with the desert people. Individuals have authority and ownership of this land and the associated sites and stories, and continue to care and manage the land as their ancestors have done. These links, both spiritual and physical, to the desert are integral to the well being of Anangu.