Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932 – 2002) was the most famous of the Contemporary Indigenous Artists who lived around Papunya, in the Northern Territory’s Western Desert area, when the acrylic painting style (known popularly as “dot art”) was initiated.

Geoffrey Bardon came to Papunya in the early 1970s and encouraged the Aboriginal people to put their dreaming stories on canvas, stories which had previously been depicted ephemerally on the ground. Clifford Possum emerged as one of the leaders in this school of painting, which has come to be called Papunya Tula. Possum was of the Anmatyerre culture-linguistic group from around Alherramp (Laramba) community. He was of the Peltharr skin.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri died in Alice Springs on the day he was scheduled to be invested with the Order of Australia for his contribution to art and to the Indigenous community.

Posthumously, Tjapaltjarri’s works are drawing increasing attention. The artist’s majestic painting Warlugulong (previously bought by the Commonwealth Bank for just $1200) was auctioned by Sothebys on 24 July 2007. The work sold for $2.4 million to the National Gallery of Australia.

Clifford Possum is the father of another well know artist Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi.