Thomas Tjapaltjarri

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Thomas Tjapaltjarri
BornTamayinya Tjapangati [1]
c. 1964 [2]
Marruwa, Western Australia
Residence Hoppy's Camp, near Alice Springs,
Kiwirrkurra, Western Australia [1] [3]
NationalityFlag of Australia.svg  Australian
Other names Tamlik
Occupation Painter
Years active late 1980s – present
Organization Papunya Tula
Style Western Desert art
Parent(s) Lanti, or "Joshua" (father)
Nanu Nangala (mother)
Relatives Yalti Napangati
Yukultji Napangati
Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri
Walala Tjapangati
Topsy Napaltjarri
Takariya Napaltjarri

Thomas Tjapaltjarri (born Tamayinya Tjapangati, also often known as Tamlik) is an Australian Aboriginal artist. [4] He and his brothers Warlimpirrnga and Walala have become well known as the Tjapaltjarri Brothers. Thomas and his family became known as the last group of Aborigines to come into contact with modern, European society. They came out of the desert in 1984, and became known as "the last nomads".

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri is an Australian Aboriginal artist. He is one of central Australia's most well-known indigenous artists.

The Pintupi Nine were a group of nine Pintupi people who lived a traditional hunter-gatherer desert-dwelling life in Australia's Gibson Desert until 1984, when they made contact with their relatives near Kiwirrkurra. They are sometimes also referred to as "the lost tribe". The group were hailed as "the last nomads" in the international press when they left their nomadic life in October 1984.


Early life

Thomas was born in the desert of Western Australia sometime in the 1960s. [5] He and his family lived a traditional nomadic way of life on the western side of Lake Mackay. They had never come into contact with European society. Most other Pintupi families had been settled in remote towns to the east and west of their traditional country during the 1950s. Thomas' father, Lanti (or "Joshua"), had lived for a short time at the mission in Balgo, but he had run away after getting into trouble for stealing food. It was his decision to stay in the desert, and kept his family far away from the towns. [1]

Western Australia state in Australia

Western Australia is a state occupying the entire western third of Australia. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, and the Southern Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east, and South Australia to the south-east. Western Australia is Australia's largest state, with a total land area of 2,529,875 square kilometres, and the second-largest country subdivision in the world, surpassed only by Russia's Sakha Republic. The state has about 2.6 million inhabitants – around 11 percent of the national total – of whom the vast majority live in the south-west corner, 79 per cent of the population living in the Perth area, leaving the remainder of the state sparsely populated.

Nomad member of a community of people who live in different locations, moving from one place to another

A nomad is a member of a community of people without fixed habitation who regularly move to and from the same areas, including nomadic hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, and tinker or trader nomads. As of 1995, there were an estimated 30–40 million nomads in the world.

Lake Mackay ephemeral salt lake in Western Australia and Northern Territory, Australia

Lake Mackay is the largest of hundreds of ephemeral salt lakes scattered throughout Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The satellite image documents the appearance of the dry parts of Western Australia’s Great Sandy Desert, Gibson Desert, and Tanami Desert.

Thomas' mother was named Nanu. He also had two other mothers, Papunya and Watjunka, who were his father's secondary wives. He had two younger sisters, Yalti and Yukultji, a younger half-brother Walala, and four other "siblings" (cousins by blood relation). His father died sometime around 1980. The family finally came into contact with outsiders in October 1984, and were settled at Kiwirrkurra. The event was big news at the time, and the family became famously known as "the last nomads". [1] Thomas was diagnosed with epilepsy shortly after this. [8]

Yalti Napangati is an Australian Aboriginal artist. She is a painter of the Western Desert style of art, and paints for the Papunya Tula school. Her husband, Warlimpirrnga, is also a well-known artist. They were both members of the famous Pintupi Nine, the last group of Aborigines living a traditional way of life in Australia.

Yukultji Napangati is an Australian Aboriginal artist. She is a painter of the Papunya Tula group of artists. She is part of a generation of female painters who followed in the footsteps of the original male Papunya Tula artists.

Diagnosis is the identification of the nature and cause of a certain phenomenon. Diagnosis is used in many different disciplines with variations in the use of logic, analytics, and experience to determine "cause and effect". In systems engineering and computer science, it is typically used to determine the causes of symptoms, mitigations, and solutions.


Thomas began painting in December 1987, a few years after settling at Kiwirrkurra. [8] His cousin Warlimpirrnga had already made a name for himself as an artist and he encouraged Thomas to paint too. [2] Thomas and Walala joined the Papunya Tula artists, and they and Warlimpirrnga eventually gained fame internationally as the Tjapaltjarri Brothers. [8] Although he normally paints using Tjapaltjarri as a surname, Thomas' skin name is Tjapangati.

Papunya Tula, or Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd, is an artist cooperative formed in 1972 that is owned and operated by Aboriginal people from the Western Desert of Australia. The group is known for its innovative work with the Western Desert Art Movement, popularly referred to as "dot painting". Credited with bringing Aboriginal art to world attention, its artists inspired many other Australian Aboriginal artists and styles. The company operates today out of Alice Springs and is widely regarded as the premier purveyor of Aboriginal art in Central Australia.

A surname, family name, or last name is the portion of a personal name that indicates a person's family. Depending on the culture, all members of a family unit may have identical surnames or there may be variations based on the cultural rules.

His paintings depict stories from the Pintupi dreaming. [2] They are mostly about places and events in the Tingari cycle (a cycle of myths about the ancestors of the Pintupi). His designs are inspired by those painted on the body during ceremonies. He uses acrylic paints on canvas, sticking to earthy colours (black, white and ochres). He paints simple shapes with dotted lines, which is a style that his brothers also use.

Dreamtime sacred era in Australian Aboriginal mythology

Dreamtime is a term devised by early anthropologists to refer to a religion-cultural worldview attributed to Australian Aboriginal beliefs. It was originally used by Francis Gillen, quickly adopted by his colleague Baldwin Spencer and thereafter popularised by A. P. Elkin, who, however, later revised his views. The Dreaming is used to represent Aboriginal concepts of "time out of time," or "everywhen," during which the land was inhabited by ancestral figures, often of heroic proportions or with supernatural abilities. These figures were often distinct from "gods" as they did not control the material world and were not worshipped, but only revered. The concept of the dreamtime has subsequently become widely adopted beyond its original Australian context and is now part of global popular culture.

Canvas Extremely heavy-duty plain-woven fabric

Canvas is an extremely durable plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a wooden frame. It is also used in such fashion objects as handbags, electronic device cases, and shoes.

Ochre painting material and color

Ochre or ocher is a natural clay earth pigment which is a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand. It ranges in colour from yellow to deep orange or brown. It is also the name of the colours produced by this pigment, especially a light brownish-yellow. A variant of ochre containing a large amount of hematite, or dehydrated iron oxide, has a reddish tint known as "red ochre".

He has had paintings shown in many exhibitions around Australia, and also in Switzerland, Germany, France and the United States. [6] His larger paintings sell for at least A$6000 in Alice Springs and A$9500 in galleries in Melbourne and Sydney. [3]

Art exhibition organized presentation and display of works of art

An art exhibition is traditionally the space in which art objects meet an audience. The exhibit is universally understood to be for some temporary period unless, as is rarely true, it is stated to be a "permanent exhibition". In American English, they may be called "exhibit", "exposition" or "show". In UK English, they are always called "exhibitions" or "shows", and an individual item in the show is an "exhibit".

Switzerland federal republic in Western Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated in western, central and southern Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities. The sovereign state is a federal republic bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million people is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Toohey, Paul (4 May 2004). "The Last Nomads" (PDF). The Bulletin. pp. 28–35.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Thomas Tjapaltjarri". Aboriginal Art Store. Central Art. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  3. 1 2 Adlam, Nigel (3 February 2007). "Lost tribe happy in modern world". Herald Sun. Herald & Weekly Times Pty Ltd.
  4. "The Last Nomads". Aboriginal Art Store. Central Art. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  5. The exact date is not known. Some sources guess about 1964, [2] [6] others say around 1969. [1] This is partly because, traditionally, Aborigines have a different understanding of time; they often guess dates by comparing it to when they think another event occurred. [7]
  6. 1 2 "Thomas Tjapaltjarri". Histoires Aborigènes. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  7. Birnberg, Margo; Janusz Kreczmanski (2004). Aboriginal Artist Dictionary of Biographies: Australian Western, Central Desert and Kimberley Region. Marleston, South Australia: J.B. Publishing. pp. 10–12. ISBN   1-876622-47-4.
  8. 1 2 3 Johnson, Vivien (2008). Lives of the Papunya Tula Artists. Alice Springs: IAD Press. p. 250.

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