2008 Acrylic on Canvas 84.0 X 120.0cm Community: Kaltukatjara (Docker River)
Ruby has inherited this story from her mother, Linda Syddick Napaltjarri who won the General Painting Award in the 23rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2006 with her painting of ‘The Witch Doctor and the Windmill’. The Tjukurpa is part of Ruby’s family history from the 1940s, a time when few Aboriginal Pintupi people had contact with white people.
Ruby’s mother and her family were travelling together from the Gibson Desert to Haasts Bluff when they camped under a windmill. An old witch doctor or traditional healer, joined them in the night and on awakening was struck with the sight of a huge monster flailing its arms in the air above him. Convinced it was a devil and declaring the water it was bringing up from the ground was poison, he tried unsuccessfully to subdue it. Linda’s stepfather calmed him and explained that the windmill wasn’t a devil but part of the strange new world awaiting them in the east.
Ruby paints several different versions of this story and in this canvas shows the figures of her grandfather, the witch doctor and his two wives. Using the Western Desert symbol for people, she has painted two family groups nearby. She also shows country with its travelling tracks, water holes and families still living their traditional lifestyle, unaware yet of the changes about to dawn.