International Herald Tribune
A lone dreamer in the Aboriginal art boom
Tim Johnston
August 28, 2007

Quoted from the article:

Tjakamarra designed the mosaic in the courtyard outside Australia’s Parliament house. An 8-meter, or 26-foot, canvas hangs in the Sydney Opera House, and other paintings can be found in galleries in the United States and Europe.

He is at once one of the most traditional Aboriginal artists and one of the most innovative.

Tjakamarra thinks he is about 60 years old. He was born into a semi-nomadic community, part of the Walpiri tribe that lived in the Tanami Desert, far to the northwest of the central Australian town of Alice Springs.

He remembers walking out of the desert and encountering white people for the first time when he was 5 or 6-years-old. “The first time I saw a white man, I suppose I was a little frightened,” he says.

“I was a little naked boy running around in the desert. I saw a road and thought that it was the track made by a real big snake.”

Tjakamarra learned the skills he later used for painting when he lived out in the desert. Most traditional Aboriginal art derives from the pictures that were drawn in the sand to teach children how to read animal tracks in preparation for the hunt, or from the painting used on the bodies and implements used in traditional ceremonies.