Born: 1939, Pukayiyirna (Balfour Downs Station), WA
Bugai Whyoulter, a Martu woman, was born at Pukayiyirna, north west of Parnpajinya (Newman) in Western Australia. Whyoulter began painting professionally in her late sixties in 2007. Today, she is considered one of Martumili’s most established artists.
Known for bold compositions characterised by rhythmic lines and frenetic dotting, Whyoulter’s work is rendered in a brilliant spectrum ranging from soft pastels through to vibrant hues.
Whyoulter is from the last of the pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) generation. She grew up living a semi-nomadic lifestyle and developed an intricate knowledge of Martu Country through her travels. Ancestral Jukurrpa (Dreaming stories) inform Whyoulter’s work and landmarks such as tali (sandhills), pila (sandy plains), warta (trees; vegetation) and various crucial water sources feature prominently. The lyinji (clay pan) site of Wantili, on the Canning Stock Route, is of great significance to the artist. It lies close to her birthplace and she is a senior Custodian of the site.
This is Bugai Whyoulter’s ngurra (home Country), the Country she walked with her family during pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) times. Whyoulter’s works are mediators between past and present; ruminating on the practice of living symbiotically with Country and culture. Defying common perceptions of Western Desert art, Whyoulter’s work is bold and gestural. Her signature style is characterised by original mark making and riotous colour use in compositions at once fervid and tender.
Described as an irrepressible painter and brilliant colourist, Whyoulter’s work speaks of her intimate and profound connection to her Country. Whyoulter’s practice has been described as almost trance-like; the act of painting transporting her to important sites within her Country such as Wantili, near the place of her birth.
In Ngurra, Whyoulter guides us through the undulating tali (sandhills), warta (trees; vegetation) and waterholes she has traversed over the course of her life.