YUMARI, BY UTA UTA TJANGALA.

  1. Photograph by Dean McNicoll. © estate of the artist licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd.

This epic canvas is acknowledged as an Australian masterpiece. But it is more than art – it functions like a title deed to Country, a book of genesis and guide to moral behaviours, particularly gender relations. Painted by Uta Uta Tjangala (c.1926–1990), a pioneer of the 1970s Western Desert Papunya art movement, the large anthropomorphic figure echoes the shape of the rock hole at Yumari and a man who violated marriage laws and endures agonising consequences.

See this work, and the rest of the national collection, in Canberra.