Yarla Jukurrpa, Possum Dreaming by Jack Jakamarra Ross

Jack Ross Tjakamarra 'Possum Dreaming' 61 x 46cm.jpg
Jack Ross Tjakamarra 'Possum Dreaming' 61 x 46cm.jpg

Yarla Jukurrpa, Possum Dreaming by Jack Jakamarra Ross


Jack Jakamarra Ross  b.c. 1922 - d. 2004

Acrylic on canvas 

61 x 46cm

©Jack Jakamarra Ross Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Association reproduced with kind permission.

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The Jukurrpa country for this story is Yumurrpa, north west of Yuendumu. Jukurrpa is a Central Australian Aboriginal term used to mean the laws and protocols set by the ancestral beings who created the world. People sometimes use the word dreaming in place of Jukurrpa. The Jukurrpa story, designs and land belong to Jupurrula, Jakamarra clan men and Napurrula, Nakamarra clan women.

In this painting, the artist has represented part of a story about two ancestors fighting a big battle in this area. The two ancestors are Wapiti (bush carrot) and Yarla (Bush potato).                                                                                                                                            The painting depicts the yarla plant as the concentric circles at the top and bottom and the sinuous lines are the ngarna (roots) of the plant. Yarla (bush potato) is an important food source for Aboriginal people.

Jack Jakamarra Ross, was a senior and highly respected Walpiri man and one of the great artists to emerge from Walrukurlangu Art Centre in Yuendumu.

His work can be found in the National Gallery of Victoria amongst other collections.

The Yuendumu cooperative holds a unique place in contemporary Aboriginal art. Collectively, the works have a highly characteristic style and colour palette that sets them apart from all other desert painting. One of the distinctive features of the work is that the iconography (ordered as stories or dreamings) remain detailed and strongly defined as seen in this work by Jack Jakamarra Ross.

The works are rich with the symbols that convey the law and mythology of the people. One of the reasons is that ritual design forms the basis of the work and the rules that govern its expression are strictly adhered to at Yuendumu.

The law and culture being depicted in the paintings therefore remains strong and true to its source. 

The name Warlukurlangu comes from an important local dreaming meaning ‘place of fire’. True to its name, Warlukurlangu has become known for its vibrant palette which in recent years has encompassed an extraordinary range of colours - from hot fuchsia, mauve and electric blue to marigold yellow and tangerine orange and red.

Copyright for both artwork and text remains with the artist and Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Association and are reproduced here with kind permission.