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‘I hold my father’s story, I hold my mother’s story… [it] doesn’t come out of paper or out of a book. It’s coming out of the ground here,’ said Tjungkara Ken in 2015.
‘When the ancestors painted our tjukurpa (dreaming) on the caves and on their bodies, it was a celebration of our culture, a way of identifying people and places, and a way of continuing our stories. Today, we have new materials and ways but the celebration and commitment to tjukurpa and cultural identity is always the same,’ says Ken.
‘My painting is a self-portrait through Kungkarangkalpa tjukurpa, the Seven Sisters dreaming – a self-portrait of my country. For Anangu, they are one and the same.’
Born in 1969, Ken is the youngest of nine children, to artists Mick Wikilyiri and Paniny Mick from the Amata community in South Australia. She has been painting for over 20 years and is an important figure in contemporary Indigenous art from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) region. Her work has been acquired by major institutions and private collections across Australia and the world. She has been a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Islander Art Awards multiple times. Ken won the 2016 Wynne Prize for a collaborative work with her sisters.