The Papunya Tula Art Movement began in 1971 when a group of local men painted a school
wall in Papunya – an Aboriginal community approximately 245 km north-west of Mparntwe / Alice Springs. The murals sparked off tremendous interest in the community, and soon many men started painting. In 1972 the artists successfully established their own company. The company is entirely owned and directed by Aboriginal people from the Western Desert, predominantly of the Luritja/Pintupi language groups. It has 49 shareholders and now represents around 120 artists, men and women.
Following the homelands movement of the 1980s, the company constructed studios in the newly established communities of Walungurru / Kintore, and Kiwirrkura, extending operations into Western Australia as far as 700 km west of Mparntwe. The Papunya Tula painting style derives directly from the artists’ knowledge of traditional body and sand painting associated with ceremony. Portraying these ancestral stories for the public has required the removal of sacred symbols and the careful monitoring of ancestral designs.
The aim of the company is to promote individual artists, provide economic development for the communities to which they belong, and assist in the maintenance of a rich cultural heritage. The art centre has also assisted in fundraising for the artists’ communities, including building a swimming pool at Walungurru, and remote area dialysis services.
Desert Mob is presented annually in Mparntwe | Alice Springs on Arrernte Country.
On behalf of Desart’s staff and art centre members, the Executive Committee humbly and respectfully acknowledge the Arrernte Apmereke Artweye (Traditional Owners) and Kwertengerle (Traditional Managers) of Mparntwe.
Desart respectfully advises Aboriginal readers that this website may contain names, images and artworks of people who have passed away.