Profile image of artist Jakayu Bilyabu

Jakayu Biljabu

Martumili Artists

Jakayu is a Manyjilyjarra woman born in the mid-1930s just north of Pitu (Separation Well), an important cultural site and large soak located yulparirra [south] of Wuranu (Canning Stock Route Well 29). Jakayu lived a pujiman [traditional, desert dwelling] lifestyle in her youth, moving through the Country surrounding Kunawarritji (Well 33), Wikiri, Rarrki (Well 27), Wantili (Warntili, Well 25), Pitu, Nyilangkurr and Nyinyari. During this time Jakayu’s family would regularly meet and travel with the families of fellow Artists Bugai Whyoulter and Ngamaru Bidu.

Jakayu was travelling with her husband (also the husband of her sister), two children and extended family in 1963 when they encountered the surveyor Len Beadell, who was then grading roads through the Western Desert for the Woomera Missile Testing Range. One of the last Martu to leave the desert, Jakayu worked as a baker at the Jigalong Mission and then several other stations before moving to the newly Aboriginal owned Strelley Station for a time. In 1982, during the Return to Country movement, she relocated with her family to Punmu Aboriginal Community, where she continues to live today with her children and grandchildren.

Photograph by Tobias Titz.

Language: Manyjilyjarra

Exhibited Artworks