1992/0283 Possum Dreaming

Possum Dreaming

Artist

Clifford Possum TJAPALTJARRI
Aboriginal/Indigenous
Birth:
c 1932
 in
Napperby Station, Northern Territory
Death:
21 Jun 2002
 in
Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Artwork

Title
Possum Dreaming
Date
1983
Medium/Material
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Dimensions
96.0 x 180.0cm (sight) (Height x Width x Depth)
Credit line
Purchased 1992
State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession Number
1992/0283
Currently not on display

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Extended Label

The paintings of Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri tell the stories of his life, his country and his culture. Tjapaltjarri painted vivid and colourful cultural maps with the intention of passing on important knowledge and stories to the young people of his community. Throughout his career he touched the lives of many with his warm personality and his love of travel took him too many places. His reputation as a warm, kind and generous man contributed to his success, as one of the celebrated Indigenous painters of his time.Tjapaltjarri was born in a creek bed 200 kilometers north-west of Alice Springs in Central Australia. He started his painting career in the mid 1960's after being encouraged by his brother who was also a painter. At that time he was making a living from woodcarving for the tourist industry which developed in Central Australia during the 1950's.SHORTER VERSION FOR SAC 2011stories of his life, his Country and his culture. Tjapaltjarri painted vivid and colourful cultural maps with the intention of passing on important knowledge and stories to the young people of his community. The Possum Dreaming was a recurring story in Tjapaltjarri's paintings. In this painting we see grey and yellow sinuous lines represent the tracks made by the possum's tail on the red earth as he travels through the country at night. The possum’s blue footprints are seen on either side of these lines. The enclosed sections of colour which cover the entire canvas represent changes in the vegetation across the land. Also seen on the canvas are ten white circles surrounded by a ring of yellow spaced evenly in two rows. These circles are the trees that the possum takes shelter in at night.The Possum Dreaming was a recurring story in Tjapaltjarri's paintings. In this painting we see grey and yellow sinuous lines represent the tracks made by the possum's tail on the red earth as he travels through the country at night. You can see his blue footprints on either side of these lines. The enclosed sections of colour which cover the entire canvas represent changes in the vegetation across the land. You will also see ten white circles surrounded by a ring of yellow spaced evenly in two rows across the canvas. These circles are the trees that the possum takes shelter in at night. Tjapaltjarri painted this Dreaming story in 1983.The last series of paintings by Tjapaltjarri, which he started in the late 1990, were radically different from anything he had painted before. He painted the skeleton figures of the Goanna Brothers and used only shades of black and white. It has been said that this change was his way of coming to terms with the idea of death. Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri died in 2002.

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