One of Australia’s greatest Aboriginal artists, Yannima Pikarli Tommy Watson was a senior Pitjantjatjara elder and Law Man of the Karimara skin group. When he was born c.1935, he was given two names, Yannima and Pikarli. Both names are those of specific sites near where he was born. Pikarli is a sacred flat rock and the name Yannima, according to Tommy, is a place not too far from Anumarrapirti, which is approximately 75 kilometres west of the small community of Irrunytju (also known as Wingellina). Irrunytju is situated in Western Australia near the tri-state border of Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory and is one of the country’s most arid and unforgiving regions. While the landscape is visually beautiful, its climate is harsh — with chilling winter winds and extremely high summer temperatures.
Tommy Watson began painting in 2001 as a founding member of the Irrunytiju Arts Centre at Wingellina, Western Australia. Irrunytju is situated near the tri-state boarder of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia, approximately 720km south-west of Alice Springs.
His works has since been exhibited throughout Australia and is represented in numerous significant public and private collections, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, and the National Gallery of Australia. In 2005 he was commissioned to create Wipu Rockholes, now permanently installed on the ceiling at the Musée du quad Branly in Paris. This commission assisted in establishing his reputation as one of a handful of internationally acclaimed Aboriginal artists.