Indigenous Art of the Dreamtime
His paintings provide a link with that historic moment at Papunya and all that went before. These days ill health prevents Billy from painting but he is a familiar site in Alice Springs where he now resides.
"All the people were running. I was a little one in a coolamon. My mother put me under a bush. My father had gone hunting - for rabbit and goanna. They killed my mother. I was grown up by her sister..."
This was Billy Stockmans first contact with white people.
In 1971 Geoffrey Bardon a white schoolteacher assigned to the Papunya School initiated a project to paint a mural using the Aboriginal colours and traditional iconography. This dreaming represented in the wall painting was the dominant western desert story "Honey Ant Dreaming". Two elders, Old Mick Tjakamarra and Old Tom Onion gave the legend to the school and Billy together with Kaapa Tjampitjinpa and Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra carried out the painting. Their work became the first Central Desert art to be exhibited publicly and set in motion the amazing phenomenon that has unfolded over the past three decades. Following a catastrophic, bureaucratic decision this most important mural was destroyed less than one year after its completion.
Billy Stockman has emerged as one of the most prolific and important
Aboriginal painters of this time. His work, sprung from the worlds oldest continuous
culture, still stands alone, and its very essence is one of intrinsic spirituality. The
powerful and heroic dreaming symbols of his paintings are charged with authority and
religious knowledge. A metaphysical core and a deep affinity with the land anchor the
animated texture of his work.
In recent years the Australian National Gallery in Canberra has acquired his paintings. He is represented in major institutions such as the New South Wales Art Gallery, Art Gallery of South Australia, and the University of WA Anthropology Museum. Other collections include Artbank Sydney, Jinta Desert Art Gallery Sydney, Victorian Arts Centre, Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia Melbourne, Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery Alice Springs, Christensen Collection, held at the Museum of Victoria, Donald Kahn collection, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, The Holmes a Court Collection, and The Kelton Foundation Santa Monica U.S.A.
Recognised now as one of Australias most exceptional indigenous painters, Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri, has through his paintings helped to introduce Aboriginal culture to many people throughout the world.
In this painting Billy depicts a Dreaming story related directly to sacred mens initiation ceremonies associated with the area of Mount Densen, situated to the north west of Papunya. The custodians of this Dreaming are the Tjapaltjarri and Tjungurrayi skin groups (father and son).