Katjarra Butler Tjukurla Western Australia, Australia, b. 1946


Katjarra Butler is renowned for her wide luscious brush strokes and innovative style. Her artistic process, often involving the application of numerous layers of paint, builds a fullness and depth distinctive in her work. Butler combines traditional symbols in a highly contemporary rendering of Ngaanyatjarra stories, culture, and landscape.


Butler grew up in the bush with her extended family group. It was in 1966 that they were transported by truck to the settlement of Papunya. Her parents are Iilyiwara Tjungurrayi and Mangkatji Nangala. She often paints dreamings of the site Kuurrmankutja and Marrapirnti. Katjarra was the second wife to Anatjari Tjakamarra, one of the founding painters at Papunya. Her older sister Nguya was Anatjari’s first wife. 


Butler was born near Tjukurla in Western Australia, quite close to Kurlkurta and Puurrungu at a place called Kuun, where there is a waterhole. Kuun is the name for yellow ochre. There is also a place very close to Kuun that Katjarra refers to as her home, and is one of her “Tjukurpa” or Dreaming, which she paints. It is called Kuurrmankutja. This place is home to the two Kuniya (python) Dreaming. The other Dreaming that she paints is Marrapinti.


Her paintings depict “Tali’ sandhills’’,”Puli” rocks & “Kungka” women painting up & preparing for a ceremony. Many of her works include “Kampurrarpa” or bush raisin which is collected. Her work has a rawness to it, evoking the true feel of a desert sand mosaic.