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.