Peter Mungkuri Australian, Yankunytjatjara / Pitjantjatjara, 1946-2021
Peter Mungkuri was born in the bush near Granite Downs, living a traditional life with his parents, three brothers and many sisters. During his early childhood the cattle stations at Mimili and Granite Downs were established, and as a young man he worked for the small Mimili community; watering the trees and establishing the bush garden.
Peter never attended school; instead learning about the land and his culture from his parents and family, as a young man he began working as a cook at the neighboring cattle station and began riding their horses. During this time, Peter became a highly skilled horseman, which led to him working as a stockman.
“I never went to school, my school was riding horses and all that… I was learning to ride horses, branding, and breaking them; we always learning on the horses. We were living in the scrub and the bush; there was no community, no houses for us.”
As a stockman Peter traveled on horseback between Mimili and Oodnadatta, Kenmore Park and Finke; mustering cattle and droving for weeks on end, alongside his friends (and future painting colleagues) Alec Baker and Whiskey Tjukangku. These three men all recall their time working in the saddle with enduring fondness and pride.
“We were working together, we go everywhere; Mimili, Kenmore Park, Granite Downs, all over the place, every station, that was in the mission days. We were always riding around, laughing at other blokes, we had a good time. We didn’t worry about other things, we just ride around working hard and have good time.”
Having retired from stockman’s work, Peter is now a dedicated artist, working daily at the Iwantja Arts art centre in Indulkana Community. Peter is a highly respected elder and leader in his community and all throughout the APY Lands. Peter Mungkuri’s paintings express his extensive knowledge of country and Anangu culture, and reflect on his experiences working the land as a stockman.
“I’ve got good knowledge of horses, stockmen, the country. These things, everything, is my memory – my knowledge, I like painting my country, I like to paint the memories of my country.”
Peter Mungkuri’s paintings and work on paper have been acquired by cultural institutions and significant collections in Australia and overseas. Peter Mungkuri was the winner of the inaugural Hadley’s Prize for landscape painting in 2017 and was the winner of the NATSIAA General Painting Award in 2018.