Muuki Taylor is a senior Martu man, born circa 1945 at Wayinkurungu, a soak on the fringe of the Percival Lakes amid the Great Sandy Desert. Taylor grew up during pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) times, part of a large family – his father having three wives. Together, they walked across the vast expanse of the Great Sandy Desert, frequenting sites around Parnngurr, Punmu and the Kiriwirri area of the Percival Lakes.
Holding extensive knowledge of Martu Law, song, custom and history, Taylor is often called upon as an authority by other Martu artists. This wealth of knowledge is reflected in Taylor’s painting. His work depicts both ancient Jukurrpa (Dreaming stories) and the nuanced, seasonal changes of his Country. In a methodical layering of dot work, Taylor records the reaction of the landscape to dry times, waru (fire burning), nyurnma (burnt Country), regeneration, and rain. The resulting paintings are captivating studies of the history and evolution of Taylor’s Country.
“My Country, Kulyakartu. I grew up there, from little boy to big boy grew up there.” – Muuki Taylor
In this exquisite landscape study, Muuki Taylor depicts the grass country around Kulyakartu, in the north of the Great Sandy Desert. There is very good hunting at Kulyakartu, but no permanent water. During pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) times, Taylor’s family walked there each year following the wet season.
Taylor paints his Country in all its seasonal stages, paying close attention to the after-effects of waru (fire burning). Controlled burns play a crucial role in encouraging greater diversity in plant and animal life, regenerating growth and assisting with hunting. In this work, the artist leaves us to consider what seasonal shifts may be at play. Taylor’s richly layered dot work and blazing colour palette seem to evoke nyurnma (burnt ground) – smouldering embers still aglow after a recent burn.