One of the APY Lands most respected cultural leaders, ethno-botanists and senior artist of Kaltjiti Arts has died, aged in his mid 80s.
Kaltjiti Arts notice of his passing states that Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja was born at Walalkara, c 1930 while his family were moving from Makiri to Mimili.
He saw a ‘whitefella’ for the first time at Shirley Well when he was a young teenage boy. As a young man, he worked with cattle at Welbourne Hill and Everard Park. He grew up around Wellborne Hill, and Everard Park stations learning from his father. He knew the tjukurpa stories around the mountains at Mimili and all the southern area from west to east. His father was Pitjantjatjara from west of Watarru and his mother was Yankunytjatjara from Makiri to the north west of Walalkara.
The small homeland community of Walalkara is where Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja lived with his wife Tjayangka (Antjala), his three children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. This is the Yankunytjatjara country of the artist and his family who are nguraritja, the people who belong to this south country of Walalkara on the APY lands. An expert tracker, Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja had an intimate knowledge of the animals and plants of his country and recorded this for posterity in paintings that detail the trees, animal tracks, landmark creeks, rockholes of his country in his unique, fresh style.
In the past two years Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja had become a prominent senior artist of Kaltjiti Arts and was achieving widespread recognition. He exhibited nationally and with Art Kelch in Freiburg, Germany and his works were collected by Artbank, the National Gallery of Australia and Charles Stuart University. In 2012 he held a sell out solo exhibition with CCAE in Darwin of his works on paper titled Nyangatja ngayuku ara irititja: this is my life from long ago. In 2013 Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja’s works completed shortly before he passed away will feature in exhibitions at CCAE, Darwin and Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne.
Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja passed away on the 31/12/2012.Kaltjiti Arts Arts Centre manager Beverley Peacock and studio manager Pete Volich, say that his ˜strong and enthusiastic spirit touched all who met him’ and that this senior law and culture man will be sadly missed by the community, his extended family and many friends throughout the APY Lands.