Clifford Tjapaltjarri

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri is arguably the most famous male Central Western Desert artist, who from 1971 until his death in 2002 dominated the Aboriginal art scene. Hailed as the master and pioneer of Central Western Dot painting, Clifford merged the traditional with the contemporary creating artworks which moved beyond their canvas speaking to all who gaze upon them.

Born at Napperby Station, north-west of Alice Springs, he is the youngest son of ‘One Pound’ Jimmy Tjungurrayi and Long Rose Nangala [both deceased]. Similar to many Aboriginal artists of this time, he began his working career as a stockman on various cattle stations established on his ancestral country and later was employed in the construction of the Papunya settlement. An established wood-carver and a skilled painter, in the early 1970’s Clifford along with his brother Time Leura Tjapaltjarri joined the ‘painting men’ which soon transformed into the Papunya Tula Artists. In the late 1970’s to the early 1980’s, Clifford Possum was Chairman of this group and in 1990 presented the Queen Elizabeth II with one of his paintings.

Although married and father to Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi and Michelle Possum Nungurrayi, Clifford Possum dedicated his time to creating extraordinary three-dimensional artworks widening the circles of knowledge relating to Anmatyerre history, Aboriginal and national history.