Tjukurpa Kunpu Mulapa
acrylic on canvas mailbag
framed with spears by Sammy Dodd - punu (wood), malu pulyku (kangaroo tendon) and kiti (resin made from spinifex grass)
116 x 144 cm (diptych)
© The artist and Mimili Maku
Mike has embarked on a series of paintings on repurposed canvas mail bags. These works respond directly to the text printed on the bags by Australia Post, which Williams uses as a starting point for his own text additions that talk about heritage, ownership and custodianship, as well as Commonwealth law and Anangu lore. "Theft or Misuse of this Tjukurpa munu manta (culture and land) is a criminal offence, penalties apply."
Mikes writes on his painting in Pitjantjatjara:
Listen to this: Our Tjukurpa is strong. Our Tjukurpa isn’t written in the Government’s books. Our Tjukurpa is guarded by all of the old men, to keep it strong. The old men are holding on to all of the knowledge. Our Language. Our Tjukurpa. Our history and our stories. The old men like me are keeping watch over all of these. They’re the ones in charge, not the government.
Mumu Mike Williams
Born: 1952 Pukatja (Ernabella) SA
Pitjantjatjara language group
Art Centre: Mimili Maku, Mimili SA
Mumu Mike Williams was born between Kenmore Park and Pukatja (Ernabella) on the APY Lands in South Australia. Mike’s parents worked near Ernabella in the bush looking after the sheep around Black Hill. Mike’s father was Yilku whose country is Tankunu, near Nyapari. His mother was Maringka and her country is Ilitjata near Pipalyatjara.
Mike grew up around Pukatja, and later worked as a drover at the cattle station at Kenmore Park. As a student at Ernabella School, Mike learned to read and write in English and Pitjantjatjara.
A faithful Christian, Mike pursued bible studies, and became a pastor. Mike’s work with the church took him around the world in 1970, when he visiting Israel, England, India, Europe and America. After returning to the APY lands Mike become a carpenter and worked in Ernabella building houses. Mike continues to be actively involved in the church and is dedicated to his duties as the pastor of Mimili.
Mike is a respected senior man of Mimili community and the wider region. He has a vast knowledge of country and he has a profound connection to Anangu culture and heritage. Mike is also a traditional Ngangkari healer.