Wipana was born in the bush at Makiri rockhole (minyma tjala Tjukurpa – honey ant womens creation site) in the Western Desert in 1935. Her mother’s country is Watarru and her father’s place is Aparatjara. She grew up at the mission at Ernabella and remembers her school days fondly. “At school we learn’t in Pitjantjatjara, English wiya (no english). All the kids were nikki (without clothes). Ngaltutjara (poor things!)” Later she moved to Fregon with her family, where she married and brought up her children. From Fregon, Wipana moved with her young family to Watarru, where she helped to establish Watarru as a permanent community.
Wipana Minyintiri Muwaitja is the mother of Anne, Beryl and Imatjala, all established and recognised artists. Her Tjukurrpa is the Makiri (honey ant) of that region. Wipana passed away in 2019.
Cultural knowledge is handed down orally in the retelling of the Tjukurpa (traditional stories of the ancestors’ journeys), which not only sustains Anangu (Aboriginal people) physically, but socially and spiritually. Tjukurpa painting depicts a fragment of a larger story, a living history where an ancestor was involved in creating country. Individuals have authority and ownership of this land and the associated sites and stories. The maintenance of this country is paramount to artists of Watarru and they are proudly working with the Department of Environment and Heritage SA through which they continue to care and manage the land with respect and responsibility. The senior artists from Watarru have received high acclaim for their stunning collaborative paintings. Tinpulya along with her sister Wipana are the leading hands in these works. Their initial collaborative works were commissioned by the Department for Environment and Heritage SA and now hang permanently in the South Australian Parliament. In 2007 they won a major prize in the Drawing Together competition sponsored by the Australian Public Service Commission, a competitive award, which attracted over 570 entries from across Australia. Today Wipana’s daughters continue to paint in collaboration, in South Australia and at Ikuntji Artists, creating impactful and detailed paintings of their Tjukurpa and country.