Papunya Tjupi Arts

Art Centre MapPapunya Tjupi is an Aboriginal owned, community-based Art Centre, representing over 100 artists. They produce acrylic paintings on canvas, prints, punu (wood work), baskets and jewellery.

They are a not for profit organisation where all proceeds go directly back to the artists and into community projects.

In 1972 the male elders of the various language groups then resident at Papunya instigated the now renowned Papunya Tula Artists to sell and market their paintings on their behalf. In the early 1990’s Papunya Tula moved it’s operation to Kintore and Kwiirrkurra, west of Papunya. Warumpi Arts was established in Alice Springs by the Papunya Community Council in 1994. The closure of Warumpi Arts in 2004 by the Council left the majority of Papunya artists with no representation and at the mercy of private dealers, many of who are unethical in their business practices.

In October 2005 the Papunya artists approached Professor Vivien Johnson of the College of Fine Arts (COFA), University of NSW to help them establish, for the first time, a ‘community-based art centre’ in Papunya. The project’s future was initially uncertain, but through the commitment of the artists and community we have evolved into a ‘fully fledged’ art centre. We are steadily building the reputation of Papunya Tjupi and its artists and achieving financial security through sales with the assistance of external funding.

The community has been asking for an art centre since the founding artists of the Papunya art movement submitted a funding application to the Aboriginal Arts Board back in 1975. The artists had a strong desire to encourage the continuation of traditional craft and cultural law through arts practice. Thirty or so years later the urgent need for adequate facilities has still not been addressed. Yet their descendants and the community carry on their desire to teach tjukurrpa through painting despite having no facility and periodic support.

The art centre is not only about producing art and having a building. We are the only community-based activity in Papunya that can offer valuable cultural, socio-economic and educational benefits few community organisations are capable of matching.

Papunya is the world famous birth place of the Western Desert Art movement and as such is lucky in being a particularly culturally rich and vibrant area.