Harper Morris Tjungurrayi: Emu Dreaming at Angara Well, Utopia

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Harper Morris Tjungurrayi: Emu Dreaming at Angara Well, Utopia


Emu Dreaming at Angara Well, Utopia, polymer paint on composition board painting by Harper Morris Tjungurrayi.

Donated by Professor Edwin Clifford Webb, Buderim, QLD. Professor Webb was the Vice-Chancellor of Macquarie University (1976–1986).

  • Polymer paint on composition board
  • 1200 x 740 mm
  • 1981

Harper Morris Tjungurrayi commenced painting in acrylics in the early 1970s when the Papunya painting movement began. This classical period had men from various language groups living at the Papunya settlement who were encouraged by school teacher Geoffrey Bardon to translate traditional sand and body painted designs onto boards, and later, canvas. Emu Dreaming at Angara Well painted in 1981, is derived from ground designs used in ceremonies at Angara Well, north east of Alice Springs, that deal with a group of mythical or Tjukurrpa emu beings and their travels across the landscape. The painting is near symmetrical in format and dominated by a central series of concentric circles generally referred to as a roundel. This is a frequent iconographic feature in classical Papunya painting and it can represent elements such as a camp, a sacred site, a resting place, a well, or a rock hole. In this painting the smaller pair of roundels represents dry waterholes, the dominant central roundel shows the well and the gently waving lines radiating out from it are sand hills. The journey lines or tulku along which the mythical Emu travelled are depicted here by the straight bands which stretch out across the middle of the work. Emu tracks also mark the landscape as they meander in several directions across multi-colored fields of dots.

From material supplied by Dr Lisa Chandler.

Wondervision Postcard 10

  1. Google ‘why the emu can’t fly’. Divide the story into several parts, a bit like paragraphs in a story.
    Illustrate each section and add text to explain what it represents, a bit like a comic book. If you make each picture/text a separate piece of paper, you could scan them and put into an electronic presentation, creating your own eBook. Use PowerPoint or Book Creator to do this. You could even add a voice-over for those who cannot read your story.
  2. Use dot painting techniques to draw you own emu. Display your work for others to see.
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