Place of Birth: Walytjatjara
Community: Pipalyatjara, South Australia
Region: Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yangkunytjatjara (APY) Lands
Harry Tjutjuna was born in the bush circa 1930 at a place known as Walytjatjara. This is a place is north-east of Pipalyatjara community, where he resides today. Harry is one of the most senior Law men of the area; few of his generation are still alive. He is also a revered artist and Ngangkari (traditionalhealer). A native Pitjantjatjara speaker, Harry has strong family ties to the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands in South Australia, and into the west towards Warburton Ranges.
As a young man, Harry moved around a lot. He lived at a place called Pukatja (Ernabella), where a mission existed for many years. It began in 1937 and was primarily established to provide medical assistance and western education to local Anangu (the term for Aboriginal people from the area). Harry went to school in Pukatja but he later moved on to work at a settlement, where he sank bores, did fencing and gardening and tended to the animals. He also worked as a stockman, mustering cattle for many years. Eventually Harry moved back to the far north-west with a large family, living in and around Irrunytju (Wingellina) in Western Australia, and Pipalyatjara in South Australia.
Harry became a full-time artist in 2005 at Ernabella Arts before moving permanently to Pipalyatjara in 2008, where he has continued painting at Ninuku Arts Center. Harry’s knowledge of Tjukurpa (Dreaming stories) associated with the land surrounding Pipalyatjara is extensive and, due to his seniority, is unmatched by most others. He paints a range of stories including Wati Wanka (Spider Man); Wati Nyiru, the man who chases seven sisters around and eventually marries one; and Kungka Tjuta – young girls telling stories traditional way by drawing designs in the sand (milpatjunanyi).
“Old generation are here now and I am old generation too. Lots of old generation have passed away. What are we going to do? What happens when I pass away? New generation got to learn Tjukurpa.” - Harry Tjutjuna
Harry’s whimsical themes, combined with his masterful use of the brush, have quickly positioned him as one of the most highly sought-after artists at Ninuku Arts and throughout Australia. He has a unique approach to painting, exhibiting a quirky representation and bold confidence.
The Luczo Collection, USA
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Charles Darwin University Collection
National Gallery of Victoria
National Gallery of Australia
Araluen Arts Center
Art Gallery of South Australia
Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht
The Netherlands & Parliament House Collection, Canberra.