Tali Tali Pompey – A Great Australian Indigenous Artist

tali-tali-pompey1Australian indigenous artist Tali Tali Pompey, was born ca.1945/1947 in the southern Northern Territory in the heart of central Australia. She had a short artistic career beginning only in 2002. During this time, her work was taken in by several major public galleries.

Pompey’s parents were Yankunytjatjara people from lands more southern than her birth,  around Kalka and Kaṉpi in South Australia. Pompey grew up in the area around Finke, and then moved south to Ernabella when she was a young woman. At the time, this was a Christian mission set up for Australian indigenous people coming in from the desert. While living in Ernabella, Pompey learned art and craft at the community’s craft room. She learned how to sew, make batik, dye fabrics and spin sheep’s wool to make rugs.

Pompey’s husband  was a Pitjantjatjara elder and law keeper for the country around Kaltjiti. They moved to Kaltjiti after it was set up as an outpost in the 1960s. Together they had eight children, including six boys and two girls.

  • Pompey started painting for the community’s art centre, Kaltjiti Arts, in 2002. She painted regularly and became quickly noticed by critics.
  • In 2003, one of Pompey’s paintings, titled Pita, was chosen as a finalist for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.
  • Another of her works, Para – Desert Gums, was chosen as a finalist for the competition in 2010.

In the ten years that she worked as an artist, Pompey’s works became well represented in Australian collections.

In 2007, she suffered a mild stroke, which affected the movement in her left hand. She recovered and then continued to paint up until her death. She died on 16 November 2011, in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

Examples of her paintings are now held in the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

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