Songlines: Minyipuru at Pangkal
17 December 2021
As we continue to explore Martu Country, one of the three deserts in the 'Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters' exhibition (on display until 27 February 2022), we're looking in detail at some of the key works that are on display. In this post, learn more about ‘Minyipuru at Pangkal’.
This vibrant circular painting is one of the first and most noticeable works visitors see in the Martu Country part of ‘Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters’.
It’s an acrylic work on canvas measuring over two metres wide. It’s one of a number of paintings in the exhibition created by a collective from the Martumili Artists who are based in the far West of Australia. The names of the three artists who worked together to create this large and beautiful work are Mulyatingki Marney, Nancy Nyanjilpayi Chapman and May Maywokka Chapman.
People don’t like painting alone.
Ngalangka Nola Taylor
‘Minyipuru at Pangkal’ is also one of the works that has been animated in the immersive dome that forms part of the ‘Songlines’ exhibition in Tavistock Place, so you get to experience it twice in two completely different ways!
The painting depicts events at Pangkal, a rock hole near the isolated mining site of Telfer in Western Australia. Rock holes are cavities or hollows in rocks where water collects. They’re an important water source for Indigenous people who live in dry, arid areas.
Traditionally, Aboriginal people travelled across the country according to the seasons and availability of water so knowing where to find rock holes was vital for survival. Rock holes have also been important gathering places to socialise, trade, perform ceremonies and share stories.
In the Seven Sisters songline, the Seven Sisters (the ‘Minyipuru’) are being chased by a shape-shifting pursuer (‘Yurla’). At the Pangkal rock hole they camp, sing and dance. As they tire, they turn into rocks and others are born out of the landscape to take their place. They taunt Yurla before continuing their journey across the deserts.
With thanks to the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the National Museum of Australia and the curators of 'Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters'.
‘Minyipuru at Pangkal’ 2016 by Mulyatingki Marney, Nancy Nyanjilpayi Chapman and May Maywokka Chapman, Martumili Artists © the artists/Copyright Agency 2020 Image: National Museum of Australia.