Papunya Tula

Papunya Tula is an Aboriginal artist collective formed in 1972 in Papunya, Australia, whose members use traditional Aboriginal art forms and imagery to express their identity

In the late 1950s and early 1960s many Aboriginal communities were forcibly moved from the Western Desert to a place called Papunya in the Northern Territories. Here they were encouraged to assimilate into white Australian society. In response to this repressive order, the communities began to find other ways of representing their identity. Inspired by their teacher Geoffrey Bardon, who was working in Papunya, members of the aboriginal community began to paint murals depicting symbols inspired by traditional body and sand ceremonial art. Because many of the symbols have spiritual significance, the Papunya Tula artists use dots to camouflage the images.

The Papunya Tula artists are widely credited with bringing Aboriginal art to Western attention. There are around 120 artists in the Papunya Tula collective including Anatjari Tjakamarra, the first Aboriginal artist to have his work bought for a major museum collection.