I (Sabine Haider, Director Central Art) met Bambatu Campbell Napangardi in 2007; she came to visit me during a visit into Alice Springs and was referred to me by family members. Bambatu was born in the early 1940’s in Winron, across the Western Australia border, east of Kiwirrkurra. This country is inhabited by the Pintupi language group. Bambatu was raised as a traditional Aboriginal woman, her family hunted and gathered, living off the land. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the extended family group relocated permanently to Papunya community.
As a young woman while visiting relatives in Balgo Community in Western Australia that she met her future husband, Dinni Campbell Tjampitjinpa. They were married in Balgo and had six children together, four sons and two daughters. Sadly Dinni passed away in Alice Springs in 2000.
Dinni’s older brother, Anatjari Tjampitjinpa was one of the original artists painting in Papunya. In the 1970’s Dinni observed his brother and the old men painting and for a time assisted his brother. During this time he gained invaluable experience in mixing colours, depicting Dreamtime stories on canvas and helping to paint.
During a visit to Papunya in 1981, Uta Uta Tjangala invited Dinni as well as other men to assist him to produce a large canvas depicting events at the site of Yumari. This was seen as a great honour and in a way he completed an apprenticeship under Uta Uta and became an artist in his own right. In 1991 Dinni began painting for Michael Hollow Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery, in Alice Springs, Melbourne and Sydney.
Bambatu was an apprentice to her husband for many years; she began painting her own Dreamtime stories which were passed onto her by her parents and also from Dinni. The skills and techniques that she has learnt from her husband and by observing the “old men” painting in Papunya with her husband she has been able to apply to her own artworks. Her artworks are quite typical of elders from the Kintore and Papunya regions and her works often depict women’s ceremonies.
Her “|Kungka Tjukurrpa|” paintings tell the story of the journey paths travelled by her ancestors from Wirrulunga (east of Kiwirrkurra), from Kintore to Mount Liebig and the Papunya region. At each sacred location the women would stop to dance and sing the cycle of each sacred site. In her paintings the concentric circles represent waterholes and the parallel dotted lines represent the path taken. Bambatu’s line work and dotting techniques also show the body paint designs used and many traditional symbols that are often seen in Central Desert paintings.
Bambatu now resides in Kiwirrkurra Community and continues to paint, she is also in the process of mentoring her daughter and passing down all of the knowledge that she has gained in her own learning. Her artworks are sold Australia wide and internationally.
• 2011, “In Black and White”, Japingka Gallery, Perth.
Important copyright notice
The Copyright of all images and documentation remains with Sabine Haider. The Australian Copyright Act protects all artists from unauthorised copying by giving control over original works of art to the artist by law. However depending on the use proposed, Sabine Haider from Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store can facilitate reproduction of works with the permission of the artist as we have developed close relationships over the years with many individual painters and craftspeople.
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