In June this year women artists from across the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands came together for the first time to paint a large canvas depicting the Seven Sisters Dreaming – a significant Tjukurpa that travels through the entire region that describes the formation of the Pleiades constellation.
Kungkarangkalpa - Seven Sisters
acrylic on canvas
300 x 480 cm
© The artists and APY Art Centre Hub
Image courtesy Silversalt Photography
The 24 women who collaborated on the work have dedicated the painting to the children of the APY Lands, ensuring that the knowledge of law and country and the ties of family stay strong for the next generation. Artist Nyurpaya Kaika Burton from Tjala Arts spoke about the significance of the women’s collaborative canvas:
Awari nganana alatji tjungungku waarka palyara walytjapiti pukulpa nyinanyi uwa ka tjukurpa nyangatja nganampa anangu maru uwankaraku kampatjangka unngu ngaranyi.
Nganana unngu kututungka tjukurpa tjuta kanyini munula palulanguru kunpu ngarany.
Nyangatja nganampa titji malatjaku ngaranyi tjana kulu kunpugku kanyintjaku nganana purunytju
Of course when we come together to work like this as family we are happy. This story is for all of us, all Anangu.
In this canvas is our story.
We have these stories in our heart and inside us.
This makes us strong.
This is for the next generation, so they can strongly hold the stories like we do.
According to the story, the seven sisters travel again and again from the sky to the earth to escape the persistent Nyiru’s unwanted attentions. They turn into their human form to hide, but he always finds them and they flee back to the sky. As Nyiru is chasing the sisters he tries to catch them by using magic to turn into the most tempting kampurarpra (bush tomatoes) for the sisters to eat and the most beautiful Ili (fig) tree for them to camp under. However, the sisters are too clever for Nyiru and outwit him as they are knowledgeable about his magic. They go hungry and run through the night rather than be caught by Nyiru.
Every now and again one of the women fall victim to his ways. It is said that he eventually captures the youngest sister, but with the help of the oldest sister, she escapes back to her sisters who are waiting for her. Eventually the sisters fly back into the sky to escape Nyiru, reforming the constellation (and in some cases the artist will secretly depict sexual elements as Nyiru is really only after one thing).
Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yunkunyjatjara (APY) Lands Women's Collaborative
Tjariya Stanley and Carlene Thompson (Ernabella Arts); Sandra Goodwin, Betty Muffler, Jeannie Wallatina and Judy Wallatina (Iwantja Arts); Tjanglia George, Manyitjanu Lennon, Matjanka Norris and Angela Robbin (Kaltjiti Arts); Betty Pumani and Puna Yanima (Mimili Maku Arts); Freda Brady, Wawiriya Burton, Nyurpaya Kaika-Burton, Ilawanti Ken, Sylvia Ken, Tjungkara Ken, Alison Munti Riley, Mary Pan, Maringka Tunkin and Yaritji Young (Tjala Arts); Eadie Curtis and Beryl Jimmy (Tjungu Palya).