Why is this work a self-portrait?

Tjungkara Ken, Kungkarankalpa tjukurpa, Seven Sisters Dreaming, a self-portrait, acrylic on linen, 240 x 200 cm (© the artist Photo: Mim Stirling, AGNSW)

This shimmering work by Indigenous artist Tjungkara Ken is a finalist in this year’s Archibald Portrait Prize.

It’s only the second abstract work by an Indigenous artist to be shortlisted for the prestigious prize.

So what makes it a self-portrait?

Ken, who is from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands of South Australia, explains that this work is a representation of her tjukurpa, or dreaming, which in Anangu culture is akin to a self-portrait.

She speaks to me, alongside fellow artist, and one of the directors of Tjala Arts, Nyumiti Burton. I produced this story for ABC RN’s Books and Arts, and you can listen to it here.