Pegleg Tjampitjinpa

Pegleg Tjampitjinpa was born in the Kiwirrkurra area c1920. He and his family lived a traditional lifestyle in the region surrounding Wilkinkarra.

He earned his nickname when an infected spear-wound from a tribal fight resulted, after four months of suffering and being carried by his father-in-law, in the loss of his leg from the knee down. He walked with the help of a long pole, which he used to propel himself forward in large strides. He and his family, including over a dozen children from his several wives, had no contact with Western Civilisation until 1957, when they encountered a Northern Territory Welfare Branch patrol, which eventually relocated the family to Papunya.

During a visit to his lifelong friend Pinta Pinta Tjapanangka in Kintore, he started painting works reminiscent of the first Papunya Tula artists, focusing on Tingari designs in a limited pallette of reds, blacks and whites. Soon after, owing to his poor eyesight and following the death of Pinta Pinta, Pegleg entered a hiatus until an eye operation in the late 1990’s restored his sight and he could resume painting.

In 2000 Pegleg was included in the landmark exhibition at the AGNSW, Papunya Tula – Genius and Genesis. He is represented in major public and private collections throughout Australia and overseas. At the time of his death in 2006, Pegleg Tjampitjinpa was at least 85 years old.

Pegleg’s works concern the Tingari stories. During the creation era, Tingari ancestors gathered at a series of sites for Initiation Ceremonies. They travelled from across the country, performing rituals at specific sites that created the natural features of the landscape. The creation stories and rituals are still portrayed in song cycles, paintings and ceremonies and are part of the continuous teaching to the next generation. In painting Tingari Cycle, the artist is depicting the song cycle associated with the artist’s many dreaming sites and the locations of significant natural sites in his area.