Ngarralja Tommy May
Born about 1935
Wangkajunga, Walmajarri language groups, Jungurrayi skin group
Lot of our people, they been already working in station. We couldn’t find anybody behind. That’s why we went. But still now we think back to Kurtal.
Ngarralja is one of the senior singers and dancers for Kurtal. A respected elder, he is also a painter, printmaker, director of Mangkaja Arts and former Chairman of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre.
Kurtal and Kaningarra
2007, by Ngarralja Tommy May
acrylic on canvas, 60×90 cm
This [is a] story about Dreamtime people before Canning. Before whitefella come with a camel, Dreamtime people were there. These two blokes, Kurtal [right] and Kaningarra [left]. Before I been born, these two waterholes, they been looking after, cleaning all the time. Kurtal mob used to come down to Kaningarra mob, looking after Kaningarra. Keep it clean and sometime make it rain.
I am Kaningarra. Standing in my Country, I look to the south.
What is this thing chasing me? I’m a maparn [magic man] but these devil dogs are frightening me. I hit them with my powers.
Streaks of lightning are flashing in the distance. A storm is gathering all around. Lightning is flashing on top of the hills like fire, I hide underground. A waterhole forms in the earth.
A storm cloud is raining in the distance but it is coming closer. Lightning strikes on the hill. Another waterhole is formed from the sky.
The storm is approaching from the north-west, sprinkling lightly like mist. It rains a little bit.
In the north, a Jangala man looks out, standing on one leg near the sea. He is painted up, carrying a spear and a boomerang. He drinks the rainwater and dances back and forth, bringing the song from the north.