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KAY BAKER TUNKIN

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BIOGRAPHY

Artist: Kay Baker Tunkin
Skin Name: Tunkin
Born: c.1950
Region: Alice Springs
Language: 
Subjects and Themes(Dreaming): Minma Marlilu Tjukurrpa.

 

ABOUT ARTIST

 Kay was born in the early 1950s at Palvwell, a birthing place near Ernabella. She grew up at Ernabella Mission where her father, noted artist Jimmy Baker had first moved to in the early 1930s. She first went to school when she was

about 10 years old. When she was 12, Kay moved back to her mother's country at Mimili (Everard Park) with her family. Her father worked around that area tending sheep, shearing and fencing. In those times, the indigenous families camped in the bush together away from but in the vicinity of the main homestead.

When about 15, Kay moved back to Fregon with the family. This brought together Jimmy's family and that of his cousin, Wipana Jimmy, later to play key roles in the establishment of Kanpi and Watarru. Kay only stayed a short time at Fregon, moving to Yirara Lutheran College in Alice Springs at the time it was established. After a further year or so, Kay moved back to Fregon where she got a job at the Fregon Arts Centre. It was there that she started to learn arts and crafts (primarily batik and basket weaving) from her aunty, Wipana Jimmy. Kay worked at the art centre for about 15 years during which time she met her husband and mothered 5 children including up and coming artists Patricia Tunkin and Teresa Baker.

In 1985, she moved with her father and others to the nascent settlement of Kanpi which, at the time, consisted only of a shed which doubled as a shop and two houses. Since that time, the family has played a key role in the Kanpi and Watarru townships including agitating for the establishment of Tjunga Palya art centre. Today Kay is a Director of the art centre and spends her time between Kanpi, Watarru and Alice Springs.

Kay's style is hard to define as she is adventurous in the palettes she chooses, the subjects she covers and the means by which she applies the paint. What we see is the benefit of an arts background which has combined a grounding in crafts such as basket weaving with that of painting.

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