About this artwork
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Tommy Yannima Pikarli Watson (1935 - 2017) was a senior Pitjantjatara elder and Law man of Karima skin group. He was born around 1935 in Anumarapiti, 75 kilometers west of Irrunytju, also known as Wingellina, in WA, near the junction of its border with the NT and WA. His given names of Yannima and Pikarli relate to specific sites near Anumarapiti.
Tommy Watson began painting in 2001, and was one of a handful of painters establishing the Irrunytju community art centre in 2001. Watson’s work has received critical acclaim, both within Australia and internationally. In 2003 Watson was one of eight Indigenous artists, alongside Paddy Bedford, John Mawurndjul, Ningura Napurrula, Judy Watson and Gulumbu Yunupingu, who collaborated on a commission to provide works that decorate one of the Musée du quai Branly’s Paris four buildings completed in 2006.
In early 2013, Watson moved to live with family in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Following an improvement in his health he resumed painting, producing large works up to five meters long. Until the end of his career Tommy was selling large canvases and one selling for over $800,000 in 2013.
In 2014, a major work of 160 x 485 cm by Tommy Watson was exhibited at The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), one of the world’s most prestigious art fairs. Watson’s work was also on display as part of a group exhibition of First Contact Western Desert Masters also featuring Naata Nungurrayi, Esther Giles Nampitjinpa, and George Hairbrush Tjungurrayi in Sydney in June–July 2014.
In 2014 the Art Series Hotel Group named Watson as the first Indigenous artist to feature in the collection.Located in Adelaide, his namesake hotel The Watson
Tommy Watson’s was known for his use of strong vibrant colours, that symbolically represented the ancestral stories of his country
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