Walter Pukutiwara

Walter Pukutiwara
Bornc. 1930
Died10 November 2004
ResidenceErnabella, South Australia
Amaṯa, South Australia
Muṯitjulu, Northern Territory
OccupationSculptor, craftsman, painter
Years active1980 – present
OrganizationMaṟuku Arts
StylePokerwork, Western Desert art
Spouse(s)Topsy Tjulyata
ChildrenRene Kulitja
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Walter Pukutiwara (c. 1930 – 10 November 2004) was an Aboriginal artist from central Australia. He crafted traditional tools, such as spears and spear-throwers, and wooden sculptures, known in Western Desert languages as Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Language/data/iana scripts' not found.. He made these by carving the wood and then engraving patterns (Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Language/data/iana scripts' not found.) into its surface with a burning wire. This technique is called pokerwork. The patterns engraved into the objects depict Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Language/data/iana scripts' not found., spiritual stories about creation ancestors from the Dreamtime. The National Museum of Australia contains many examples of Walter's works.[1]

Walter was born just south of Uluṟu, some time around 1930. The place where he was born is associated with the Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Language/data/iana scripts' not found., and so the Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Language/data/iana scripts' not found. (brushtail possum) is his personal totem.[2] Walter grew up living a traditional way of life in the bush with his family. When he was a young man, he went to live at the mission in Ernabella, South Australia. He worked there with sheep, as a shepherd and shearer. He got married to Topsy Tjulyata,[3] and the couple moved to Amaṯa. During the 1980s, Walter served as the Pitjantjatjara representative on the Aboriginal Arts Board (AAB). He lobbied the board for money to support art and crafts in Amaṯa. As a result, the craft centre at Amaṯa was established in February 1981.[4]

Later in 1981, Walter and Topsy went to Uluṟu and set up a tent at the base of Uluṟu. From there they sold their Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Language/data/iana scripts' not found. works to tourists for over two weeks.[3][5] They did this trip with other artists from Amaṯa, including Tony Tjamiwa and Pulya Taylor, and their friends Peter Yates and Patricia D'Arango.[6] In 1983, this group travelled around to artist communities in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands. This was to discuss the idea of setting up a new craft centre at Uluṟu that would sell artworks from around the region to tourists. The couple moved to Muṯitjulu so that they could help set up Maṟuku Arts, in 1984.[4][7] Water and Topsy were some of the first artists for the centre.[4] Walter served on the organisation's Governing Committee for 20 years, including as chairman many times.[3]

From 1976 to 1978, Walter also served as a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board. In the early 1990s, he helped to set up Aṉangu Tours, the main tour operator in Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. His daughter, Rene Kulitja, and son-in-law, Richard Kulitja, took over the company when Walter retired. Walter died on 10 November 2004, in Alice Springs.[3]


  1. "Works by Walter Pukutiwara". Collection Online. National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  2. Template:Cite book
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "From a speech by the Member for Stuart, Dr Peter Toyne, MLA" (PDF). Hansard of the 9th Assembly of the Northern Territory Government. 1 December 2004. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Wells, Kathryn (February 2011). "Clive Scollay, Maruku Arts, Punu work: history, tradition and innovation, interview". Craft Australia. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  5. Finnane, Kieran (27 October 1999). "Bucks and bouquets: centre's art goes overseas". Alice Springs News. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  6. Template:Cite book
  7. Hodge, Su; James, Judith and Lawson, Amanda (September 1998). "Miles ahead: marketing that works in regional Australia" (PDF). Australia Council. p. 40.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
This article includes text from the Powerhouse Museum, Australia, which has been licensed under CC-BY-SA.

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