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Johnny Japaljarri Brown-Possum / Brush-tail Possum Dreaming (1A)

30cm x 30cm Acrylic on Canvas, Stretched Ready to Hang 

SKU: 2816-12


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SKU: 2816-12 Category:

Artwork is accompanied by Warlukurlangu Artists (Yuendumu) Art Centre Certificate of Authenticity/Provenance

Johnny Japaljarri Brown-Possum was born near Willowra community in approximately 1940. His traditional country is Patirlirri (Rabbit Bore) which is to the far west of Willowra. Johnny is the half brother of the late highly acclaimed Aboriginal artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. Johnny is a senior Warlpiri tribal elder and is highly respected.

Growing up in the bush, he worked for many years as a stockman on local cattle stations. He began painting in 1982 whilst working as a janitor at the local community school. He began to teach the children about their Dreamings. From here, he must have relished the opportunity to teach people because his life has been dedicated to teaching, performing and painting. He first began painting on artist board, boomerangs and shields and then moved to canvas.
Johnny is also the co-founder, alongside Ted Egan, of the “Jangampa” Dance and Theatre Group. The Jangampa dancers are a troupe of Warlpiri and Anmatyerre singers, dancers, painters and film actors who perform their traditional dances. They have appeared in many films including Kings in Grass Castles, Rabbit Proof Fence and The Tracker. They have also been invited to perform all around Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Korea and Norway.

In 2004 Johnny was involved in the CAAMA media production of “Boomerang Today”, a short documentary featuring four senior traditional elders from Yuelamu who talk about how they were taught to craft the number 7 boomerang (a hunting boomerang) with only natural bush materials. They are now teaching younger generations the same skills, although with some modern tools. These elders are keeping their traditional law and culture strong.

‘Janganpa’ or brush tail possums are nocturnal animals that live and nest in white gum trees. Janganpa Jukurrpa (common brush-tail possum Dreaming) travels all over Warlpiri country. This story is about a group of “janganpa” from a big hill called Mawurrji, west of Yuendumu and north of Pikilyi (Vaughan Springs). The family of ‘janganpa’ ancestors lived there. Each night they would go out hunting for food. They went to Wirlki and Wanapirdi, where they found ‘pamapardu’ (flying ants). They travelled on to Ngarlkirdipini looking for water.
A Nampijinpa women was living at Mawurrji with her two daughters. She gave her daughters in marriage to a Jupurrurla ‘janganpa’ but later decided to run away with them. The Jupurrurla furiously ran after the women. He pursued them to Mawurrji where he killed them with a stone axe. Their bodies are now rocks at this place. Warlpiri people perform a young men’s initiation ceremony, which includes the Janganpa Jukurrpa.

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