Western desert artist, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri is family to many at Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff). Now available for purchase through Ikuntji Artists, this book offers a wonderful insight into Western Desert Art.
About the book:
The master from Marnpi
by Alec B O’Halloran, PhD, MEd, BSc.
The master from Marnpi.
The life and art career of Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri,
Pintupi man and award-winning Papunya Tula artist.
The Aboriginal artist Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri (c1923-1998) was ‘one of the pillars of contemporary art practice’ (Hetti Perkins, Art Gallery NSW). This ground-breaking account is the first published biography of any Pintupi individual. Two questions are central: how are we to understand Tjapaltjarri, and, what can we learn from him? Comprehending his life pivots on three Pintupi concepts: tjukurrpa, walytja and ngurra, understood broadly as Dreamtime, family and place.
Tjapaltjarri is a worthy biographical subject. He won the National Aboriginal Art Award, the Alice Prize and Australia’s prestigious Red Ochre Award– the only artist to receive all three awards. Tjapaltjarri’s exemplary art career (1971-1998) is richly illustrated through numerous significant paintings. His cooperative relationships with key relatives, supporters and art advisers reveal a creative generous spirit within a reserved humble man.
Namarari’s story provides insights into the colonisation of Central Australia and the tenacity of the Pintupi people. The master from Marnpi follows Namarari as a child, survivor, stockman, traveller, artist, family leader, cultural advocate and community member, through the life stages of boy, adult and old man. This historically detailed and culturally sensitive narration of his fascinating life in Australia’s remote desert settlements is illuminating for metropolitan readers, yielding insights into Aboriginal lives in contemporary art-producing communities and their links to the marketplace. Namarari is remembered as a generous companion and a caring family man. Beyond his artwork he made numerous contributions as a patient cross-cultural teacher to Papunya Tula’s staff. As one of his family members, Keith Butler Tjungurrayi, remarked, ‘That old man had a big mob of Dreamings in his head’.
… an exemplary work of scholarship, of sourcing and citation, and it will not only be a fundamental piece of work for those interested in Indigenous Australian art but also, in my view, for many others with curiosity and interest in Indigenous life and history.
Professor Fred Myers, New York University, in the Australian Journal of Biography and History, No. 4,
2020, published by the Australian National University.
Setting a new benchmark for biographies of these early artists, Namarari’s life story is deftly woven with a close analysis of his art. Based on original interviews and extensive archival research and a catalogue raisonné, it is a forensic account that casts new light on not just Namarari—one of the original Papunya painters—but the movement and its development more generally.
Oxford Bibliography of Australian Indigenous Art
…lavishly illustrated and beautifully designed…
Caroline Overington, Literary Editor, The Weekend Australian.
The master from Marnpi is worth owning for the images alone. Its compilation was clearly a labour
of love, out of which Alec O’Halloran has made a beautiful book about a wonderful man.
Dr Martin Edmond, author, ‘Battarbee and Namatjira’
For me, The master from Marnpi is exemplary, a benchmark in artist biography as well as a lens on
the period and movement.
Professor Ian McLean, University of Melbourne, author, ‘Rattling Spears’