Local Artist Spotlight: Walangari Karntawarra • Bondi Festival arrow-leftarrow-rightmagnifying-glassshare-iconshopping-cart-iconstar-iconuser-icon

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Walangari Karntawarra and I’m an Arrernte Aboriginal elder, artist, educator and performer. Originally from Alice Springs, I’ve lived in the Bondi for 12 years.

Which of your works has had the greatest impact on you, or have you loved the most? 

My favourite painting is Winparrku because it depicts my spiritual home. It is a conical mountain, on my fraternal grandmother’s country, about 270 kilometres north west of Alice Springs. It is the location of my Blue Lightning Dreaming and where our Creator,  Yarripiri, sits.

A bright and colourful painting by Aboriginal artist Walangari Karntawarra using acrylic on canvas

Winparrku by Walangari Karntawarra

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?

My favourite and famous Uncle, the senior artist Clifford Possum, encouraged me to paint, maintain my cultural integrity and to keep going through the rough patches in life.

Is there a particular theme which is central to your work? 

My paintings are my interpretations of  the cultural Dreaming Stories that I have inherited and those that the living custodian of a Dreaming has given me permission to paint. It works like a copyright. I use my paintings as a means of cross-cultural communication. They generally depict those themes and my homelands around the McDonald ranges, in Central Australia.

What local artists do you admire?

During lockdown I did some wonderful art courses with Fiona O’Beirne, Yaeli Ohana, and Stavros Papantoniou from the Waverley Woollahra Art School. They’re expert tutors and I their love their work. I’ve also long admired the uniquely Bondi paintings of Martine Emdur.


A black and white painting by Aboriginal artist Walangari Karntawarra using acrylic on stretched canvas

Milkyway Dreaming 121 by Walangari Karntawarra

To see more of Walangari Karntawarra’s work, click through the gallery below then head to his website.

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    Bondi Festival acknowledges the Bidjigal, Birrabirragal and Gadigal people, who traditionally occupied the Sydney Coast, and we pay respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders both past and present.