Eileen Tjayanka Woods

Photo of Aboriginal Artist Eileen Tjayanka Woods

Tjayanka Woods, a senior Pitjantjatjara artist, was born around 1920, near Kalaya Piti (Emu Water) near Mimili and Wataru, South Australia, As a child she lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle in the bush with her parents, frequently camping at Kalaya Piti where they would hunt Ngintaka (goanna), Tinka (lizards), Kalaya (emu) and gather bush foods such as Kampurarpa (desert raisin), Ili (figs) and Maku (wood grubs). Tjayanka moved to Irrunytju in the 1970’s where she started her painting career in 2001.

Years before she would sit with her friends Wingu Tingima and Angampa Martin,  beside a camp fire and weave multi-coloured baskets surrounded by bags of raffia, tjanpi, emu feathers and camp dogs. Until her death she loved to make Tjanpi (weaving) and loved the mob of dogs that surround her wherever she goes.

Her actual age is hard to determine, but her daughter and other references put her as probably mid 90’s, her official birth date would have been recorded long after her birth.

Tjayanka was a senior custodian for Kunkarangkalpa (Seven SIsters) at the sacred site Kuru Ala

Tjayanka refers to the Minyma Kutjara tjukurpa in her paintings as well as Kungkarrangkalpa. They are structured like mud-maps, tracing the journey for  each story on the canvas showing the rock-holes and land formations through the country. For Minyma Kutjara incorporated into the paintings is the flight of the eagle, her grandfather, who flies above the path of the sisters. “This is my father’s country close up to Irrunytju. The two sisters were travelling through this country. My grandfather, he is this eagle in my painting. You can see where he flew, she will tell you.

Further Artist Information

Community: Blackstone : WA

Artwork

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