Deathscapes

Ward 3a - Last of the Stone-Age Men

Deathscapes

‘The Last of the Stone-Age Men, the Professor of the Bush’: Mr Ward’s Story

[imagecaption] Pulpurru Davies, Kurrpurrlurrpurrlu Tjukurrpa— The Star People of the Pleiades Constellation and their activities on Earth. 2002 Acrylic on canvas Turner Collection, Reproduced with permission. [/imagecaption]

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Mr Ward was born into a large family who lived in the remote Gibson Desert unaffected by western influences. His father was Kalma, also known as Tjakamarra. His birth mother, Katapi, also known as Pulpurru, would become a painter of significance and is now one of the oldest persons still living on the Ngaanyatjarra Lands. Together they lived from the land, camped and travelled with other desert families and regularly participated in desert ceremonial life.

From 1955 the Gibson desert lands were the site of cold war weapons testing experiments conducted by the Australian and UK governments. State reconnaissance parties were deployed to search out and relocate Aboriginal people living in the area.  Mr Ward’s family was brought into Warburton Mission in 1965 in one of these exercises when he was still an infant.

In explaining her artwork Marumurtu Mob, 2001, Mr Ward’s birth mother Pulpurru Davies said: ‘Marumurtanya [the patrol officer, Mr MacDougall] palunyalu katingu [he took people everywhere], coming back, going round, went to [Warburton] Ranges, Warakurna and then to Yuendemu and Balgo, everywhere’ (excerpt from the art catalogue Mission Times in Warburton, Warburton Arts press, 2001, p.26).

(Based on a longer narrative prepared for Deathscapes by Jan Turner.)

 


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