Dr George Ward Tjapaltjarri
c. 1930s - 2017
Born: Near Jupiter Well, WA
LANGUAGE GROUP: Pintupi
COMMUNITY: Kintore, NT
Dr George Ward Tjapaltjarri was referred to as 'The Doctor' for many years because of his skills in traditional healing and his extensive knowledge of bush medicines. He was often employed by Central Australian Aboriginal medical units to carry out traditional medicine.
Dr George spoke very little English and had no particular desire to learn. His interests lay more in imparting his extensive knowledge of the environment, nature, bush crafts and traditional healing to his community and interested parties.
The Doctor had no contact with white Australia until 1963 when, as part of a small group of Pintupi people, he was located near Jupiter Well, approximately 900km west of Alice Springs. Many at the time considered this group to consist of perhaps the world's last truly stone age people. Doctor George was well into his thirties when he was found and had been living a lifestyle which dated back thousands of years. This background permeates Doctor George's art and as such his work is considered culturally significant.
Dr George Ward was amongst the first Central Australian artists to start painting traditional designs on canvas. His heritage and personal history of walking desert floors as his ancestors had done before him for thousands of years has contributed to his works being considered extremely collectable.
Doctor George's membership as one in a small, elite group of artists triggering the Central Australian Art Movement in the late 1960's is recognised internationally.