Kenny Jupurrula Walker’s Snake Dreaming

Kenny Jupurrula Walker’s Snake Dreaming 1986 depicts ancestral Jukurrpa (dreaming) paths doubling as the body of a powerful snake man (warna). This snake spirit is emerging from a place near the Granites, which is the sacred country of Henry Jackamarra Cook (the elder first shown in our Kurdiji 1.0 campaign video). Travelling over the landscape, the snake sheds its babies and leaves its spiritual essence at many sites of the Tanami desert. Its dreaming paths are shown blue in the painting and the short bars are the clapsticks used in ceremonies dedicated to the snake’s journey. Where the snake passes it sings its power into the country and its Indigenous custodians. It shapes the landscape into mountains and creates waterholes and soaks.

“We call that snake Warnayarra
That snake travels like stars travel in the sky
It came down at Kandimalal (Wolfe Creek)
I been there, I still look for that crater
I gottem Ngurriny – that one, Walmajarri/Djaru wild man.”
(Speiler Sturt)

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’.

snake dreaming

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.


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