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Once Upon a Time in Papunya by Vivien Johnson

$50.00 inc. GST

A gripping narrative work, this book is an important intervention in Australian art history.

Astronomical auction prices in the late 1990s first drew many people’s attention to the phenomenon of the early Papunya boards, the thousand small painted panels created at the remote Northern Territory Aboriginal settlement of Papunya in 1971-72. Western Desert art expert Vivien Johnson looks at the controversies that surrounded the paintings at the time of their creation – and what they mean now to the artists’ descendants; the role of teacher Geoffrey Bardon; the depiction of sacred imagery, and the distant worlds of art auctions and international exhibitions.

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The most widely known story of Australian art is about the beginnings of Papunya Tula. It has, says Vivien Johnson, been ‘retold so often that it almost has the force of Dreaming’. Its force is not just due to the story’s frequent telling, but also to the crime with which it begins, which was the making of prohibited images. From a review by Ian A. McLean

Published by Newsouth

400 pages