Mulyatingki Marney, a Martu woman, was born to a Warnman mother and a Manyjiljarra father. Her Country encompasses the Punmu, Kunawarritji and Karlamilyi River regions. In her youth, Marney walked extensively across this Country with her family, including sisters and fellow senior artists Nyanjilpayi Nancy Chapman, May Wokka Chapman and Marjorie Yates (dec.).
Marney was still a girl when her parents died but she and her siblings continued travelling their Country alone. Marney recalls her first encounter with ‘whitefellas’ in the Karlamilyi region. A plane flew overhead sending Marney and her sisters diving for cover under the prickly spinifex until the threat had passed. Eventually, Marney settled at Jigalong mission, returning to Punmu in 1982 where she resides with family today.
Marney has worked on some of Martumili’s profoundly beautiful collaborative paintings, at times alongside her sisters. These works are powerful representations of the artists’ intimate knowledge of and enduring connection to Martu Country.
Wilarra is the word for moon in Manyjiljarra, and also the name of the site depicted in this work. A cluster of saltwater pools known for their healing properties are found at the site, and Martu people still frequent them to bathe cuts and sores. Mulyatingki Marney and her sisters often camped at Wilarra where a wungkurr (windbreak) provided shelter. Of this ethereal work, Marney says:
“The moon and the lake. The moon is taking care of the dingo pups, it’s looking after them. This here is the salt lake [and the] dingo pups here laying down, they’re laying there with their mum. [The] father is here, [the] father of the pups with his wife. They are talking to each other, laying down next to each other. They sang out, kept howling. The pups listened and ran away. The moon is laying down taking care of the pups.”
In Jukurrpa (Dreaming) times, the moon called a family of dingoes to Wilarra where she cared for them, creating a windbreak for the family to shelter. The dingoes then continued their travels, following the moon to the east, stopping at various sites along the way.