Japingka Waterhole

Penny K Lyons

Artwork Year



144 x 96 cm


acrylic on canvas


This artwork portrays Japingka waterhole, a vital and perennial water source, or ‘Jila,’ within the artist’s homeland in the Great Sandy Desert. The term “living water” emphasizes that this waterhole remains filled throughout the year, never running dry.

Japingka holds significant importance for the Walmajarri people. Following the rainy season from December to March, it stands as the singular waterhole spacious enough for the entire community to convene. During this period, important ceremonies take place, and matters of social law are addressed with the entire community present. The Dreaming story associated with this locale revolves around Kalpurtu, the Water Snake. The people pay him respectful homage, conducting ceremonies and singing to invoke more rainfall.

As this season concludes, people disperse into smaller, family-based groups, venturing towards outlying waterholes. This dispersion ensures that water and food resources in any given area are not excessively strained or overburdened.

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