Lajamanu panels

In March 1986, after a decision to use art to transmit cultural knowledge, Lajamanu’s artists transitioned from painting on fruit boxes, car parts, floor tiles and wood scraps, to using huge sheets of composition board. These works, in bold house paint, became known as the ‘Lajamanu Panels’.

One of the precursers to the large works is Walter Jampijinpa’s Man’s Water Dreaming 1971, painted with red and white house paint on a tiny piece of board. Here Ngapa, the water spirit being (double half circles), sits by a waterhole (concentric circles), as running water flows out into the desert (dots).

“The Water Spirit Being is the corroboree man singing at his fireplace in a cave and inducing the sky to rain. It rains but he does not partake of the rain. He does not get wet; he is the rain itself. Sometimes people can see his fire at night in his cave in the mountains after a storm.”
(Geoffrey Bardon)

The use of images to transmit cultural stories is a long held tradition across Aboriginal Australia, and particularly in Warlpiri communities. Their Kurdiji 1.0 Aboriginal suicide prevention app follows the same methods. It will use photographs, drawings, video, audio and 3D motion capture to present cultural ideas around resilience. By reconnecting young Aboriginal people with culture, community and country, Warlpiri elders hope to prevent suicides. You can support them by donating to the crowdfunding campaign at and sharing their message.

old man water dreaming

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