Biography

Ruth was born in the bush at Granite Downs cattle station around 1960 where her parents were working as station hands. Her father’s country is Kampurarpapiti in Western Australia and her mother’s place is Tjalinyla close to Tjuntjuntjara (Spinifex Country) also in Western Australia. Ruth’s grandfather had three wives, as was common for traditional Pitjantjatjara men. Ruth’s grandmother was the first wife. Wingu Tingima was the third wife and culturally one of Ruth’s grandmothers.

Ruth has powerful spiritual links to the desert. Traditional knowledge of food collection and water sources were vital for survival in this dynamic desert landscape and is a prominent theme in her work. Ruth has cultural connection to Kuru Ala, and other sites associated with the Seven Sisters Tjukurpa; to Kata Ala, Pukara, Punuwara and Irrunytju. This cultural knowledge is handed down orally in the retelling of the Tjukurpa (traditional stories of the ancestors’ journeys), which not only sustains Anangu (Aboriginal people) physically, but socially and spiritually. Tjukurpa painting depicts a fragment of a larger story, a living history where an ancestor was involved in creating country. Ruth has familiy ties with Maringka Baker, Tjayangka Woods, Anmanari Brown and Wingu Tingima and together with their families they have authority and ownership of this land and the associated sites and stories. Wingu narrated the following story for Kuru Ala, “This is Kungkarrakalpa Tjukurpa (Seven Sisters). Secret country for women.The seven sisters were stopping close up to Kuru Ala. They are sitting near the cave, they are living in. One man, Nyiiru, was watching all the young girls. He was trying to get one of the sisters to be his wife, but they didn’t want that old man. The sisters were going into kuru Ala and they saw a quandong tree. They all rushed in for the quandongs. “This isn’t really quandongs” they said after tasting them, “must be that wati Nyiiru trying to trick us.” They were running and hiding from him and ran into the cave.”