Early in 1994 the Papunya Community Council established its own art centre to give the Aboriginal people of Papunya an increased involvement in the commercial aspects of Aboriginal art. This centre, called Warumpi Arts, maintained a gallery in Alice Springs until September 2004 and was the main centre for paintings by Papunya artists. The Papunya Community Council then decided to close the gallery with the aim of later opening an art centre in Papunya.
The Warumpi gallery operated in a way determined by the Community elders, who ensured that profits from the sale of paintings and crafts go to all the Aboriginal people of the community. The artists who painted for Warumpi Arts took considerable pride in their paintings as a reflection of their culture and beliefs.
Warumpi is an Aboriginal (Warlpiri) word meaning ‘honeyant’. Honey ants are one of the favourite bush foods of central Australia and their nests are found at the base of mulga trees. The ants produce a sweet “honey” which is stored in their bodies.
The range of mountains behind Papunya has a distinctive rounded shape, like the shape of a honey ant in profile, and it is this shape which has given these ranges their name – and also the Warumpi Art centre.