Witjiti George

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DOB: circa 1938
Born: Lambina/Granite Downs Cattle Station, SA
LANGUAGE: Pitjantjatjara / Yankunytjatjara
COMMUNITY: Kaltjiti, SA

Witjiti George is a senior traditional elder from Mulga Bore, near Kaltjiti (Fregon), South Australia on the APY Lands. Witjiti was born in 1938 at Lambina/Granite Downs cattle station in the far north of South Australia. His mother's country is Piltati in the Mann Ranges near Kanpi, and his father came from Coffin Hill (sacred mens' country) south of Kaljiti. Witjiti holds extensive cultural knowledge and authority within the region and is very involved in the community collaboratively and artistically.

As a small boy, Witjiti went to school at Oodnadatta before his family travelled east towards Ernabella and the railway line. They moved subsequently as there was a drought and they had little access to water and food. When the community of Fregon was established in 1961, Witjiti began cattle work and settled there. Tjangili, his wife, came from Mt Ebeneza to Ernabella and they were married in an old traditional custom. They have three children together.

Witjiti started painting in 2007 at the Kaltjiti Aboriginal Arts Centre and is considered one of their esteemed senior artists. He is also a director of the APY Art Centre Collective where Anangu artists work and come together from across the APY lands.

Witjiti's paintings depict a relationship to the land and country. He depicts his mother's Country of Piltati where the Wanampi Tjukurpa is located (a well-known Tjukurpa/Dreaming story of the two water serpents who live in the Piltati Rockhole with their two wives). Witjiti fondly refers to this Tjurkurpa as a love story. In describing his artworks, Witjiti explains "this is a story about two brothers and two sisters. The two 'watis' (brothers) - two water snakes, are at the Piltati rockhole waiting for two sisters. The two women had gone to find 'mai' (food), they were gone a long time and the men were hungry. They all live there in this rockhole."

Witjiti's work has been exhibited throughout Australia and his works have been acquired by institutions such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Collections

  • Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Artbank, Sydney
  • Arnaud Serval Collection, Switzerland
  • Robert Kaplan and Margaret Levi Collection, USA

Awards and Recognition

2021 38th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
2020 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney - Finalist jointly with Keith Stevens, Taylor Cooper
2019 36th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
2019 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney - Finalist
2016 34th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist

History

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2021 Kaltjiti Arts - Kulintja Wiru (Thinking of Good Things), Yaama Ganu, Moree
2021 Weapons for the Soldier, Cowra Regional Art Gallery, Cowra
2021 Maru Munu Piranpa - Black and White, Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin
2021 APY LANDS Stockroom Show, Yamaa Ganu, Moree, NSW
2020 Nganana Paitamilani Tjitji Tjuta-Ku Munu Anangu Tjuta-Ku - We are painting for our children, Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin
2020 Kaltjiti Arts - APY Lands - New Work, Moree, NSW
2020 Across the Lands, Moree, NSW
2020 Sydney Contemporary 2020, Sydney
2020 Nganana Paitamilani Tjitji Tjuta-Ku Munu Anangu Tjuta-Ku - We are painting for our children, Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin
2020 Painta Wirunya - Beautiful Paintings, Yaama Gallery, Moree NSW
2020 Tjilpi - APY Senior Men, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
2020 Director's Choice 2020, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Grand Old Men - a survey exhibition, Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin
2019 Rikina! Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin
2018 Kaltjiti Arts - Taylor Cooper & Witjiti George: Ka Pula Nyangatja Kutjara Nyinyanyi Malparara (These two are sitting together as friends), Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin
2018 Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
2018 Steadfast - Works from Kaltjiti, Short Street Gallery, Broome
2018 Weapons for the Soldier, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Sydney
2018 Nganampa Ngura Kurunjara - The Place of Our Spirit, Olsen Gallery, Sydney
2017 Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
2017 Sharing Country, Olsen Gruin Gallery, New York
2017 Artists of the APY Lands, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
2016 Nganamp Kililpi - Our Stars, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Sydney
2016 Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
2016 A song and a Prayer for our Friend, RAFT Art Space, Alice Springs
2016 Kililpi -Tili Pulka Irnyan: Bright Shining Stars, Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin
2015 Malpa munu waltja tjuta. Ngura tjuta - nguru - Family and Friends All Over The Lands, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide
2015 Desert Mob, Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs
2015 St Ignatius College Art Show, Adelaide
2010 Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
2010 Painters of Fregon, RAFT Art Space, Alice Springs
2009 Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
2007/2008 Tjulpuntjulpunpa: Vistas of Wildflowers by Kaltjiti Artists, Festival Centre, Adelaide