It is with great sadness that we inform you of the death of one of the greatest contemporary painters of the APY Lands, Kunmanara H. Burton.
As a gallery, we've had the immense privilege of working with him since his early days as a painter at Tjala Arts (then Minyma Maku). He was one of the most powerful men in the Lands, but he was blessed with such an abundance of grace and dignity, he was respected and admired wherever he went. A gifted Ngangkari, he had a skill of bringing people together. Kunmanara was known for his unerring commitment to cultural preservation and he spearheaded many projects to ensure that his generation's knowledge and skills would be handed down to the younger generations. His gentle, steadfast patience and reason won over the most obstinate critics.
Kunmanara's passing is a huge loss to his family, community and the artworld. There will be few mighty enough to follow exactly in his footsteps, but we will all be better for the trying.
We offer our deepest sympathies to his family, Tjala Arts and the APY community. May he rest in peace. His legacy will endure in his cultural and artistic work.
OBITUARY RELEASED BY TJALA ARTS:
Dear Friends of Tjala Arts,
It is with much sadness that we are writing to inform you of the passing of a great leader, Mr Kunmanara Tjupuru Burton. Mr Burton passed away in Pukatja on Monday afternoon.
There are no words to describe what Mr Burton meant to Tjala Arts and Amata Community.
Mr Burton was an incredible teacher, leader and friend to all who he met. His immense cultural knowledge was matched by an unwavering integrity and strength.
He will be remembered not only for the magnificent paintings and works on paper that he created during his lifetime but also for the important cultural regeneration initiatives that he started, to ensure his grandsons and granddaughters would grow strong, founded by their cultural roots.
Mr Burton often talked of the image of the tree.
“The trees are different for Anangu. They are our ancestors, they are our Family. They are our history and our future.” - Kunmanara Tjupuru Burton – Punu Nguru 2012.
Mr Burton’s legacy will ensure that the Tjala Arts tree will continue to grow, taller, stronger and more beautiful in Mr Burton’s memory.
Thank you to all who supported him and his family through this time.
The Artists, directors, members and staff of Tjala Arts