Artwork by Katjarra ButlerArtwork by Katjarra Butler

Papuun – Katjarra Butler


40.6cm x 76.2cm: acrylic on canvas

Artwork is sold unstretched

In stock


40.6cm x 76.2cm: acrylic on canvas

Artwork is sold unstretched

Katjarra Butler

Written by Elizabeth Marrkilyi (Katjarra’s neice). Katjarra was born quite close to Kulkurta and Purrungu at a place called Kuun. Kuun is the name of the waterhole there. Kuun is also the name of the yellow ochre. There is also a place very close to Kuun that Katjarra refers to as her home and is one of her Tjukurrpa or dreaming which she paints. It is called Kuurmankutja. This place is home to the two Kuniya (python) dreaming. The other dreaming that she paints is Marrapirnti. Her father was Lilyiwara Tjungurrayi and her mother was Mangkatji Nangala. Katjarra had an older sister Nguya Napaltjarri and younger brother Peter Tjanpaltjarri, now both deceased. . Katjarra lived with her parents, sibblings and immediate family in the bush as a child, teenager and young married woman. She lived with her family and later with her husband in the country to the west of Tjukurla in the Kulkurta area which is south of the Baron Range in Western Australia. Katjarra lived a traditional nomadic lifestyle only, travelling families within their family’s country and lived off the animals that they huntedand bush food that they collected. They collected and drank water from the rockholes, soakages, springs and claypans (waterholes). All the travelling was done on foot.


Katjarra is renowned for her wide luscious brush strokes and innovative style. Her artistic process, often involving the application of numerous layers of paint, builds a fullness and depth distinctive in her work. Katjarra combines and recombined traditional symbols in a highly contemporary rendering of Ngaanyatjarra stories, culture, and landscape.

At Papuun there are four rockholes, one of which is very large, and so people used to swim there. Katjarra remembers swimming there during the hot times with her family.

The word Papuun means to ‘fan smoke with your hands.’ The Tjukurrpa for Papuun is about a woman called Kutungu who is described as a large senseless, middle-aged woman. Kutungu’s kinship name comes under Nungala. She was travelling from the South-West, and through her travels she noticed some dog tracks and followed, with the intention of hunting them as she was hungry. She eventually tracks the dogs and can see they had been playing around at Papuun. Kutungu had watched the dogs as they went into a dried rockhole. Once they were all in the rockhole, she closed the entrance covering it with dirt and trapping them inside. She then gathered plants and grasses and lit a fire over the rockhole to smoke out the dogs. She fanned the smoke into the burrow with her hands. When they came out, they were dizzy and sick from the smoke. Kutungu then feasted, and once had her fill, eventually continued further to the West.