Pukara by Monica Watson - 61 x 91cm
Acrylic on canvas
91 x 61cm
This is a story about kaliny-kalinypa (honey grevillea plant), which Anangu (the term for people in Pitjantjatjara) use as a type of bush lolly, sucking the nectar out of the plant. In the Tjukurpa (Dreaming story) a father and son, Wati Kutjara Wanampi (two male water snakes), are living at Pukara, an important waterhole site near Irrunytju (Wingellina). Because of the kaliny-kalinypa which is found at the site the water there has a sweet taste and lots of people go there to access it. But father Wati Wanampi doesn’t like this and he tells them to go back to their own country. The people leave and the father and son travel to Willuna, where they camp for weeks. When they return to Pukara, they are awoken by a buzzing sound. Minyma Punpunpa (the female flies) are making lots of noise as they buzz around the honey bush. This prompts the father and son to get up to go and collect honey. While they are doing this, a Wati Mututa (black ant) finds the father and son, and spears the son in his side. The young son starts spitting and he spits up the yellow and orange seeds of all the different types of honey grevillea. These plants can still be found at this site today. There is a big variety of honey grevillea plants including kaliny-kalinypa, ultunkunpa, piruwa and witjinti.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Puntjina Monica Watson was born in 1943 at Pukara, an important and sacred rock hole in Western Australia. Pukara is one of the sites of the ‘Wanampi tjukurpa’, the water snake Dreamtime story. As a young girl, she walked from Western Australia to the community of Pukatja in South Australia, alongside her father and his three wives. The youngest of her father’s wives was prominent artist, Wingu Tingima.
Monica worked in the craft room at Pukatja before marrying Wimitja Watson, a ‘Ngangkari’ (traditional healer), and moving to Amata. They went on to have many children. During the late 1970s and the “Homeland Movement”, the Watson family returned to their traditional home lands, and settled into the community of Pipalyatjara. Monica continues to live in Pipalyatjara today, where she is a much respected elder. Wimitja was also heavily involved in cultural business up until his passing in 2017.
Monica is well known for her quirky use of vibrant colours and composition, often framing her paintings with an intricate border created by a plethora of colourful dot work. Monica is also a passionate and committed artist, painting almost every day at Ninuku, and has established herself as one of the centre’s leading artists.