Yunkurra Billy Atkins (c.1940-2021) was a Putijarra man and senior custodian of the area surrounding Kumpupirntily (Lake Disappointment), at the southern end of Martu Country. He was born in the early 1940s at Palatji (Palarji, Weld Springs, Canning Stock Route Well 9). Yunkurra grew up around Wiluna, and narrowly avoided being taken away by missionaries as a child. Subsequently he grew up with his Elders, learning about culture and Country in his traditional lands, including Kumpupirntily, Kupayura (Savory Creek) and Jilukurru (Killagurra Springs, Well 17). Yunkurra lived a pujiman [traditional, desert dwelling] lifestyle. Eventually, he, like most other Martu at the time, began working on pastoral stations around the Pilbara. In later life Yunkurra relocated to Jigalong Aboriginal Community, closer to his home Country. Yunkurra began painting and carving independently in the early 2000s, earlier than most Martu artists. He played a central role in the development of painting practice in the Martu communities, and as a senior artist and creative innovator he made works in many mediums. As an individual Yunkurra was instrumental in the establishment of Martumili Artists. Photograph by Tobias Titz.
Yunkurra Billy Atkins (dec.)