Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra

REGION: PAPUNYA – Northern Territory
BORN: 1932 c.

Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra is one of the founding members of the Papunya Tula Artists and his exquisite artworks pay homage and acts as instruments to preserve his culture ancestral traditions. Born in his mother’s country ‘Kalipinya’ [an important Rain Dreaming site] he grew up in the bush west of Pilininyanu until his teenage years when his family settled in Haasts Bluff. Here he remained, working as a labourer and stockman until in 1959 when Papunya was established and he moved location to work as a councillor and school yardman. He along with Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri, Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, were selected by fellow male Papunya peers to paint the instrumental ‘Honey Ant Dreaming’ mural on the school wall. Although being a good Christian [1984: ordained Lutheran pastor], a family man with five children, his skills regarding hunting and tribal knowledge are unsurpassable. Thus, he is considered to one of Australia’s most knowledgably and leading Aboriginal Artists and his artworks unique locate tradition within the contemporary.

Long Jack was born at Kalimpinpa, north east of Kintore, in 1932. This place is considered an important Rain Dreaming site. Of Warlpiri/Luritja descent, Long Jack spent his earlier years in the bush country west of Mt Farewell. When he was a teenager, he and his family arrived and resided at Haasts Bluff. Long Jack found employment there, working as a timber contractor and also as a stockman; he was considered a good axeman and hunter.

He married Georgette Napaljarri and they have two sons, three daughters and a number of grandchildren. During the early 1970s, Long Jack served as a Councillor at Papunya and is quite knowledgeable about tribal law. Since those times, he has been involved in the Papunya painting movement and was a foundation member of Papunya Tula Artists. Long Jack and Billy Stockman jointly offered their help in painting some of the smaller murals
around Papunya School. The “Honey Ant Dreaming” mural on the school wall was the first ever project done by Aboriginal men on a public building in Papunya.

These early paintings prompted and ushered in to the wider art world the Honey Ant Dreaming story. As a consequence of these early works the Aboriginal acrylic art movement was founded and Long Jack Phillipus is part of that history. Long Jack paints the Water, Wallaby, Kingfisher, Hare, Dingo and other Dreamings in the Mt Singleton area.

Long Jack has been described by Geoffrey and James Bardon as ‘representing the goodness and givingness always within the Aboriginal people’. He is a devout and introspective person, creating compelling traditional Aboriginal images of remarkable spiritual intensity. He portrays his work with religious overtones and its symbolic references to the sanctity of his his land, his people and his culture. In 1984, Long Jack was ordained as a Lutheran Pastor. He lives in Papunya and is close to his kinship brother, Michael Jakamarra Nelson. His younger sister Pauline Woods is also a well-known Western Desert artist currently residing in Alice Springs.

1980 Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin; 1989 Mythscapes, Melbourne, Australia 1993 Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. 1994 Walkabout World Vision, Melbourne. 1997, 2000 Group Exhibitions, Alice Springs, Northern Territory. 1998, 1999 Group Exhibitions, Canberra, ACT. 1999 Flinders Art Museum, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA. 2000-2006 Group Exhibitions and Permanent Collection, redrock gallery, Melbourne.

■ National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne ■ Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth ■ Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide ■ Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney ■ Holmes a Court, Australia ■ Mem Aziz Private Collection, Australia ■ Museums and Art Galleries of Northern Territory, Darwin; ■ University of Western Australia Anthropology Museum, Perth ■ Galeria R. Poznan, Poland.

1983 Northern Territory Golden Jubilee Art Award, N.T. Australia 1984 Alice Springs Art Prize, Northern Territory, Australia.