C. 1934, PAYINJARRA, GREAT SANDY DESERT, WA
WALMAJARRI/ JAPINKA, GREAT SANDY DESERT
WALMAJARRI / JUWALINY
Rosie Tarku King was born at Payinjarra, a jumu (soakage) in the Great Sandy Desert, c. 1934. Rosie spent her childhood in the bush, walking across her Country, and hunting wirlka (sand goanna) and pussycat for food.
Rosie married as a young girl, and was the second wife of her husband, along with her older sister. After her marriage, the three left the rest of her family at Japirnka and walked out of the desert. They walked a long way before arriving at Old Bililuna, where Rosie recalls being frightened by seeing airplanes and motorcars for the first time.
Rosie began painting in the early 2000s, and her works are held in the collections of the Art Gallery of WA and the National Museum of Australia. Characterised by her dynamic use of colour and negative space, and frenetic symbolism, her work vividly brings to life the jila (living waterhole), jili (sandhills) and jumu (soakage) of her desert homelands.
In this work, Rosie Tarku King brings to life the complex ecosystem of her desert homelands in an intimately detailed map of her Country.
Vibrant reds and pinks radiate with the heat of desert and are tempered by blue circles demarking jila (living waterholes) and jumu (soakages) – vital life-giving water sources. The salt lakes of the area are rendered in peach and encircled with a faint blue line tracing their receding waters, while red sand dunes writhe in various shades of pink.
Tarku King describes the work,
‘You can see salt lakes dry without water, some jilas and little billabongs with water, sand hills, red sands, dry grass and trees.’