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Shorty Jangala Robertson / Water Dreaming

122cm x 76cm Acrylic on Linen

SKU: 1345-13

$3,250.00

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

Shorty Jangala Robertson was born at Jila (Chilla Well), a large soakage and claypan north west of Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community located 290kms north-west of Alice Springs in the NT of Australia. He lived a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle with his parents, older brother and extended Warlpiri family. They travelled vast distances across desert country, passing through Warlukurlangu, south west of Jila and Ngarlikurlangu, north of Yuendumu, visiting Jangala’s, his skin brothers.

Shorty Jangala Robertson had virtually no contact with white fellas during his youth but remembered leaving Jila for Mt Theo ‘to hide’ from being taken. His father died at Mt Theo. He moved with his mother to Mt Doreen Station, and subsequently the new settlement of Yuendumu. During World War II, the army took people from Yuendumu to the other Warlpiri settlement at Lajamanu. Shorty was taken and separated from his mother; however, she came to get him on foot and together they travelled hundreds of miles back to Chilla Well. Drought food and medical supplies forced Shorty and his family back to Yuendumu from time to time.

His working life was full of adventure and hard work for different enterprises in the Alice Springs and Yuendumu areas. He finally settled at Yuendumu in 1967 after the Australian Citizen Referendum. It is extraordinary in all his travels and jobs over his whole working life, that he escaped the burgeoning and flourishing Central Desert art movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Thus Shorty’s paintings are fresh, vigorous and new. His use of colour to paint and interpret his dreamings of Ngapa (Water), Watiyawarnu (Acacia), Yankirri (Emu) and Pamapardu (Flying Ant) is vital, yet upholding the Warlpiri tradition.

Shorty was well in his 70’s when he started painting. He was an active member of the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Association. His first solo exhibition at Alcaston Gallery in 2003 was met with great artistic acclaim. Since then he exhibited in many Aboriginal Art Exhibitions in Australia and overseas.

He passed away on a sunny Sunday morning in September 2014.

The site depicted in this painting is Puyurru, west of Yuendumu. In the usually dry creek beds are water soakages or naturally occurring wells. Two Jangala men, rainmakers, sang the rain, unleashing a giant storm. It travelled across the country, with the lightning striking the land. This storm met up with another storm from Wapurtali, to the west, was picked up by a ‘kirrkarlan’ (brown falcon) and carried further west until it dropped the storm at Purlungyanu, where it created a giant soakage. At Puyurru the bird dug up a giant snake, ‘warnayarra’ (the ‘rainbow serpent’) and the snake carried water to create the large lake, Jillyiumpa, close to an outstation in this country.

This story belongs to Jangala men and Nangala women. In contemporary Warlpiri paintings traditional iconography is used to represent the Jukurrpa, associated sites and other elements. In many paintings of this Jukurrpa curved and straight lines represent the ‘ngawarra’ (flood waters) running through the landscape. Motifs frequently used to depict this story include small circles representing ‘mulju’ (water soakages) and short bars depicting ‘mangkurdu’ (cumulus & stratocumulus clouds).

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