In 1930, while his family were moving from Makiri to Mimili, Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja was born at Walalkara in the APY Lands. He saw a ‘whitefella’ (European person) for the first time at Shirley Well when he was a young teenage boy.
As a young man, he worked with cattle at Welbourne Hill and Everard Park in the far north of South Australia. He grew up around Wellborne Hill and Everard Park cattle stations learning from his father. He knows the Tjukurpa stories around the mountains at Mimili and all the southern area from west to east. Unusually, Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja was a custodian for Country that involves women’s Law – minyma tjukurpa. Ililya and Puni Puni are two such places that feature in his paintings.
Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja was an artist and painter of very recent times, joining the art centre in July 2004. His theme was always his traditional country, Walalkara and Ililya. He was also an expert carver and made traditional artefacts such as boomerangs, spears, spear throwers and shields.
Kunmanara Tjilpi Kankapankatja died in January 2013. He is survived by his wife Tjayangka (Antjala) Robin and his daughter Kanytjupayi Robin, both of whom are artists with Kaltjiti.