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Linda Syddick is a Pintupi woman who was born at Lake MacKay in the Gibson Desert, WA, in 1937. Her Aboriginal name is Tjunkiya Wukula Napaltjarri. Linda was raised in the traditional nomadic fashion until the age of eight or nine, when her family walked out of the desert and decided to settle at the Lutheran Mission at Haasts Bluff, NT.
Linda's paintings are inspired by both her traditional nomadic life in the desert, and the Dreamings of her father and stepfather. Linda's father was Rintje Tjungurrayi and was he killed by a revenge spearing party in accordance with customary Law when Linda was about eighteen months old; she was subsequently brought up by her stepfather, artist Lankata Shorty Tjungurrayi. Before Lankata died in 1985, he instructed Linda to carry on his work and paint his Dreamings. And so it was that in 1986 Linda was taught the art of painting by her two Uncles Uta Uta Tjangala and Nosepeg Tjupurrula.
Linda often paints the Dreaming story of the Tingari and the Emu Men. The Emu Men were ancestral beings who roamed the landscape during the Dreamtime or Creation Period. The Emu was the totem of her father, Rintje Tjungurrayi and stepfather, Langkata Shorty Tjungurrayi. The Tingari were ancestral spirit beings, who went on very long journeys, creating much of the desert landscape in Central Australia, and instructing the people about law and custom.
Linda paints country mostly around Lake MacKay, which has been central to the cultural and spiritual life of the Pintupi people for thousands of years. People used to camp around its shores during their seasonal journeys and gather there for ceremonies. Lake MacKay was where Linda was born and travelled for most of her early childhood. it is a large dry salt lake which straddles the WA-NT border, north-west of Kintore. Occasionally it fills with water and becomes blue, 'like sea water'. When this occurs birds and animals flock to the area.
Linda incorporates many perspectives and stories into a single painting. The land and country are always portrayed in an aerial perspective, the way of traditional Pintupi sand paintings, but the figures are painted straight on, like they would appear if painted on a cave wall. The spirits that Linda paints are very important and are based on the spirits that are depicted in the rock art at Tjindara, a place deep into WA from Lake MacKay which is often visited by Pintupi people. These paintings are reputed to be more than fifteen thousand years old.
In 2006, Linda was the winner of the most prestigious prize in aboriginal art, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA) for a representation of The Witch Doctor and the Windmill.
Sadly Linda passed away towards the end of 2021.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery of South Australia
Auckland City Art Gallery
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
National Gallery of Australia
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia
2010 27th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
2009 26th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
2008 25th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
2006 23rd NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist and General Painting Award
2004 Alice Springs Art Award - Highly Esteemed
2003 Visual Arts Grant, Australia Council for the Arts
2000 5th National Indigenous Heritage Art Award, Canberra - Runner up
1997 Commission for the Casino in Sydney
1996 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Board, Australia Council for the Arts: Joint runner up: National Indigenous Heritage Award
1996 Northern Territory Art Award - Alice Springs - Winner
1996 Australia Council for the Arts: Two years Visual Arts Fellowship
1995 12th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
1995 Australia Council for the Arts, One year fellowship
1992 Linda Syddick was the subject of a portrait painted by Robert Hannaford, which was a finalist in Australia's premiere portrait competition, the 1992 Archibald Prize
1992 Blake Prize for Religious Art, Sydney - Finalist
1991 Blake Prize for Religious Art, Sydney - Finalist
1990 Blake Prize for Religious Art, Sydney – Finalist