Mamu Tjuta - Spirit Creatures by Rene Kulitja

Mamu Tjuta – Spirit Creatures

Walka is Desert design and inextricably linked with Tjukurpa: the Law and way of life of Anangu (Central and Western Desert Aboriginal people). The symbols were traditionally used in cave, ground and body paintings, in story telling, teaching and signalling inheritance. Meaning of the designs depends on its subject and particular people are responsible for their re-creation and teaching according to the Tjukurpa. Highly experienced craftspeople have grown up making traditional tools and weapons under the instruction of their elders. They now apply this knowledge and express their world through art such as this.

Both the dot painting and etching techniques, where walka is burnt into the wood with wire heated on a wood fire, have become Centralian traditions, evolving with the adaptation of traditional design for public display and as a depiction of Tjukurpa and landscape.

Rene has deisgned this walka after the style of her late aunt, acclaimed artist Nura Rupert. Most of Nura’s designs depicted stories from her childhood, often images of animals, such as dingos and goats. These morphed into what became her best known works featuring mamu or spirits, often used in traditional children’s stories as ‘scary monsters’ to make sure they stay away from trouble.