Wawiriya Burton

Last updated

Wawiriya Burton
Born 1920s
near Pipalyatjara, South Australia
Residence Amaṯa, South Australia
Nationality Australian
Other names Wawiya Burton
Occupation Artist
Years active 2008–present
Organization Tjala Arts
Style Western Desert art

Wawiriya Burton is an Australian Aboriginal artist. She is known for her acrylic paintings. Her paintings are representations of sacred stories from the Dreamtime. Like other Aboriginal artists, the representations are blurred (or encrypted) for cultural reasons. The full meaning of her artworks can only be understood or deciphered by people who have been initiated. Burton is a ngangkaṟi (traditional healer), so she has more knowledge about sacred traditions than most in her community. [1] [2]

Dreamtime sacred era in Australian Aboriginal mythology

Dreamtime is a term devised by early anthropologists to refer to a religio-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.

Wawiriya belongs to the Pitjantjatjara. [2] She was born in outback central Australia some time during the 1920s. [5] . She grew up living a traditional, nomadic way of life. [6] Her family lived in her father's homeland, around what is now Pipalyatjara. [3]


The Pitjantjatjara are an Aboriginal people of the Central Australian desert. They are closely related to the Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra and their languages are, to a large extent, mutually intelligible.

Outback Area in Australia

The Outback is the vast, remote interior of Australia. "The Outback" is more remote than those areas named "the bush" which is any location outside the main urban areas.

Wawiriya lives in Amaṯa, where she began working at the Tjala Arts centre in 2008. [2] Tjala (originally Minymaku Arts) had been set up by the women of the community in 1999. [3] She made wood carvings and baskets from spinifex originally, but later learned to paint from the other women. [1] [2]

Wood carving form of working wood by means of a cutting tool

Wood carving is a form of woodworking by means of a cutting tool (knife) in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object. The phrase may also refer to the finished product, from individual sculptures to hand-worked mouldings composing part of a tracery.

Wawiriya's artworks have been displayed in exhibitions in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Alice Springs. [2] Her work is held in the National Gallery of Victoria, [4] the Art Gallery of New South Wales, [3] and the Art Gallery of South Australia. [1]

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".

National Gallery of Victoria Art museum in Melbourne, Australia

The National Gallery of Victoria, popularly known as the NGV, is an art museum in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Founded in 1861, it is Australia's oldest, largest and most visited art museum.

Art Gallery of New South Wales public gallery in Sydney

The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), located in The Domain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, is the most important public gallery in Sydney and one of the largest in Australia. The Gallery's first public exhibition opened in 1874. Admission is free to the general exhibition space, which displays Australian art, European and Asian art. A dedicated Asian Gallery was opened in 2003.

Related Research Articles

Minnie Pwerle was an Australian Aboriginal artist. She came from Utopia, Northern Territory, a cattle station in the Sandover area of Central Australia 300 kilometres (190 mi) northeast of Alice Springs.

Makinti Napanangka was a Pintupi-speaking Indigenous Australian artist from Australia's Western Desert region. She was referred to posthumously as Kumentje. The term Kumentje was used instead of her personal name as it is customary among many indigenous communities not to refer to the deceased by their original given name for some time after their death. She lived in the communities of Haasts Bluff, Papunya, and later at Kintore, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) north-east of the Lake MacDonald region where she was born, on the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Nancy Kunoth Petyarre was an Australian Aboriginal artist who lived in Utopia, 170 miles north east of Alice Springs. The second eldest of the famous and prolific 'seven famous Petyarre sisters' of Utopia, she was not herself a prolific artist.

Tjunkiya Napaltjarri was a Pintupi-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. She is the sister of artist Wintjiya Napaltjarri.

Wintjiya Napaltjarri, and also known as Wintjia Napaltjarri No. 1, is a Pintupi-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. She is the sister of artist Tjunkiya Napaltjarri; both were wives of Toba Tjakamarra, with whom Wintjiya had five children.

Contemporary Indigenous Australian art is the modern art work produced by indigenous Australians. It is generally regarded as beginning in 1971 with a painting movement that started at Papunya, northwest of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, involving artists such as Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, and facilitated by white Australian teacher and art worker Geoffrey Bardon. The movement spawned widespread interest across rural and remote Aboriginal Australia in creating art, while contemporary indigenous art of a different nature also emerged in urban centres; together they have become central to Australian art. Indigenous art centres have fostered the emergence of the contemporary art movement, and as of 2010 were estimated to represent over 5000 artists, mostly in Australia's north and west.

BarbaraWeir is an Australian Aboriginal artist and politician. One of the Stolen Generations, she was removed from her aboriginal family and raised in a series of foster homes. After becoming reunited with her mother in the 1960s and divorced in 1977, Weir eventually returned to her family territory of Utopia, 300 kilometres (190 mi) northeast of Alice Springs. She became active in the local land rights movement of the 1970s and was elected the first woman president of the Indigenous Urapunta Council in 1985. She did not begin painting until 1989 at about age 45, but she became recognised as a notable artist of Central Australia. Her work has been exhibited and collected by major institutions. She also has managed her mother's career; since Minnie Pwerle began painting in 2000, her work has become popular.

<i>Warlugulong</i> Acrylic on canvas painting by Indigenous Australian artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri

Warlugulong (1977) is an acrylic on canvas painting by Indigenous Australian artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. Owned for many years by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the work was sold by art dealer Hank Ebes on 24 July 2007, setting a record price for a contemporary Indigenous Australian art work bought at auction when it was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia for A$2.4 million. The painting illustrates the story of an ancestral being called Lungkata, together with eight other dreamings associated with localities about which Clifford Possum had traditional knowledge. It exemplifies a distinctive painting style developed by Papunya Tula artists in the 1970s, and blends representation of landscape with ceremonial iconography. Art critic Benjamin Genocchio describes it as "a work of real national significance [and] one of the most important 20th-century Australian paintings".

Josepha Petrick Kemarre is an Anmatyerre-speaking Indigenous Australian artist from Central Australia. Since first taking up painting around 1990, her works of contemporary Indigenous Australian art have been acquired by several major collections including Artbank and the National Gallery of Victoria. Her paintings portray bush plum "dreaming" and women’s ceremonies. One of her paintings sold at a charity auction for A$22,800. Josepha Petrick's works are strongly coloured and formalist in composition and regularly appear at commercial art auctions in Australia. Her art appears to have survived the huge contraction of the primary art market in Australia since 2008. There is no existing Catalogue raisonné of Josepha Petrick's artworks, to date, no fakes have been cited.

Tjayanka Woods is an Australian Aboriginal artist. She was one of the pioneers of the art movement across the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara lands, which began in 2000. She is best known for her paintings, but also a craftswoman who makes baskets and other woven artworks. Her paintings are held in the Art Gallery of Western Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, and the National Gallery of Australia.

Hector Tjupuru Burton was an Australian Aboriginal artist. He is a leading artist from Amaṯa, in north-western South Australia. His work has been shown in exhibitions since 2003, in several cities in Australia and other countries. His first solo exhibition was held in 2004 in Melbourne. Examples of his paintings are held in the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Flinders University.

Eileen Yaritja Stevens was an Aboriginal artist from central Australia. Although she had brief career of less than four years, she quickly became one of the most successful artists of her generation to paint in the style of the Western Desert. Her work is now held in several major public art collections across Australia.

Wingu Tingima was an Aboriginal artist from central Australia. She was born in Great Victoria Desert, and grew up living a traditional way of life in the bush, without any contact with Western civilization. A member of the Pitjantjatjara people, she painted spiritual stories from her Dreaming. Along with her friend and colleague Eileen Yaritja Stevens, Wingu became one of the most well-known artists to paint in the style of the Western Desert.

Tjungkara Ken is an Australian Aboriginal artist from Amata, South Australia. She began painting in 1997, when Minymaku Arts was opened by the women of Amaṯa. She started doing it professionally in 2008. By that time, the artists' co-operative had been renamed to Tjala Arts.

Maringka Baker is an Aboriginal artist from central Australia. She lives in the Pitjantjatjara community of Kaṉpi, South Australia, and paints for Tjungu Palya, based in nearby Nyapaṟi. Maringka paints sacred stories from her family's Dreaming (spirituality). As well as the important cultural meanings they carry, her paintings are known for being rich in colour and contrast. She often paints the desert landscape in bright green colours, and contrasts it against reds and ochres to depict landforms. She also uses layers of contrasting colours to show the detail of the desert in full bloom.

Jimmy Baker was an Australian Aboriginal artist.

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.

Ruby Tjangawa Williamson is a Pitjantjatjara artist from Amaṯa, in central Australia. She makes acrylic paintings and traditional wood carvings, and is one of the most successful artists from the region. Her paintings have attracted critical acclaim for her unusually modern style. Ruby paints sacred stories from the Dreamtime that have morals or lessons from her people's traditional law. She uses the typical style of the Western Desert, but the techniques and imagery are more modern. Her style is said to be experimental.

Malpiya Davey, also known as Irpintiri Davey, is an Aboriginal Australian artist from Pukatja, South Australia. She is best known for her ceramic artworks, but she also does painting, printmaking and weaving. Davey works for Ernabella Arts, the community arts co-operative in Pukatja. Ernabella Arts opened a ceramic studio in 2003, and Malpiya has since become one of its most prolific artists. She specialises in ceramic sgraffito.

Ngupulya Pumani is an Australian Aboriginal artist from Mimili, in the north-west of South Australia. She is part of a well-known family of artists, who belong to the Yankunytjatjara community. Her mother, Milatjari, and her sister, Betty Kuntiwa, are both successful painters. Ngupulya has paintings held in the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.


  1. 1 2 3 "Details of Wawiriya Burton". Shorts Street Gallery. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Ananguku Arts (ed.). Tjukurpa Pulkatjara: The Power of the Law. Wakefield Press. p. 68. ISBN   9781862548909.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Ngayuku Mamaku Ngura". Collection Online. Art Gallery of New South Wales. 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  4. 1 2 "Wawiriya Burton". Collection Online. National Gallery of Victoria. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  5. The exact year of Wawiriya's birth is not known. The Art Gallery of New South Wales estimates it to be 1925, [3] while the National Gallery of Victoria estimates puts it at 1928. [4]
  6. Rothwell, Nicolas (13 September 2011). "Visions of a changing topography". The Australian. Alice Springs. Retrieved 3 November 2012.