Artist Gladys Kuru Bidu
Title Wantili (Warntili Canning Stock Route Well 25)
Year 2021

Acrylic on linen

Dimensions 61 × 61 cm
Art Centre Martumili Artists →

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Gladys Kuru Bidu

Wantili is my place, where I was born. It’s a place where everyone was living–it’s all of their ngurra (home). It’s the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) of that place. All those claypans, a place where everyone comes together for ceremony and gatherings, all meeting with different families. I went there with my aunt [Jakayu Biljabu] and my sister [Kumpaya Girgirba]- they told me the story of where I was born, in pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) times. We walked all over the place, I was just a little one.

Artist statement

Wantili is a large round jurnu (soak) and linyji (claypan) near Well 25 on the Canning Stock Route. The area is dominated by claypans and surrounded by tuwa (sandhills). Nyilangkurr, a prominent yapu (hill), is located on the edge of the claypan. Following rain the typically dry claypans are filled with water, with the overflow from nearby waterholes flowing to Wantili. At that time, Wantili becomes an important place for obtaining fresh water for drinking and bathing. Wantili is significant for the fact that at this site Kartujarra, Manyjilyjarra, Putijarra and Warnman people would all come together for ceremonies during the pujiman era. Many jiwa (stones used by women for grinding seeds) from these times can still be found there today. Wantili is an incredibly important cultural site, “where the creation started.” (Cyril Whyoulter). In this creation story, the world was initially dark, and people were like rocks, with no arms or legs. Following the sun’s first rising, life-forms became increasingly complex while particular features in the land were created. Beyond these details much of the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narrative relating to Wantili is ngurlu (sacred), and only for Martu, but the site is open, and anyone can go there.