Celebrating 50 years of the Western Desert Art Movement: Papunya

A new exhibition at the S.H. Ervin Gallery commemorates the start of the Papunya Tula Art Movement and showcases works that document the changing times and artists who defined the era.

From the humblest of beginnings, Papunya Tula Artists has forged its way to become an artistic powerhouse and an iconic international brand, with works of marvelous quality adorning the walls of some of the most respected institutions worldwide.

People living within the Western Desert had been painting for tens of thousands of years but it was only in 1971 that a band of men began making paintings of their own design that were destined to change the Australian art landscape forever.

The Movement began when a school teacher, Geoffrey Bardon, encouraged some of the local men to paint a blank school wall. The murals sparked off tremendous interest in the community and soon, many men in the area started painting. Less than 12 months later, the artists had successfully established their own cooperative, Papunya Tula Artists.

Since its inception, tens of thousands of paintings have been created by roughly 300 to 400 artists. And still today, the company is owned and directed by traditional Aboriginal people from the Western Desert, predominantly of the Luritja and Pintupi language groups.

The National Trust (NSW) are honoured to share this momentous occasion with Papunya Tula Artists.

See the exhibition – Papunya: 50 years 1971-2021:

  • When: Saturday 27 February 2021 until Sunday 4 April 2021 (closed Mondays and public holidays)
  • Where: S.H. Ervin Gallery, 2 Watson Rd, Millers Point NSW 2000

To learn more, visit the S.H. Ervin Gallery website.