In the history of the Western Desert Art Movement, the Papunya School murals are widely acclaimed as the movement's progenitors. However, in another community, Yuendumu, some 150 kilometres from Papunya, a seminal museum project took place prior to the completion of the Papunya School murals and the production of the first Papunya boards. The Warlpiri men at Yuendumu undertook a ground-breaking project between 1969 and 1971 to build a men's museum that would not only house ceremonial and traditional artefacts but would also be adorned with murals depicting the Dreamings of each of the Warlpiri groups that had recently settled at Yuendumu. While the murals at Papunya are lost, those at Yuendumu have, against all odds, survived. Having been all but forgotten, this unprecedented cultural and artistic endeavour is only now being fully appreciated. Through the story of the genesis and construction of the Yuendumu Men's Museum and its extensive murals, this paper demonstrates that the Yuendumu murals significantly contributed to the early development of the Western Desert Art Movement. It is time to acknowledge the role of Warlpiri artists in the history of the movement.
|Australian Aboriginal Studies
|Published - 2013