Born:         c. 1927

People:     Anmatyerre

Language:  Anmatyerre

Area:           Coniston


Born at Ilpitirri near Mt Denison, north-west of Papunya, c.1927 of the Anmatyerre/Western Arrente tribe. His first contact with whites was as an infant survivor of the Coniston massacre (1928): 'All the people were running. I was a little one - in a coolamon. My mother put me under a bush. My father had gone hunting - for a rabbit and goanna. They killed my mother. I was grown up by her sister - Clifford Possum's mother.'

Billy grew up near Napperby station and Aileron, was initiated at Napperby, working there as a stockman. Later he worked as a cook in the Papunya communal kitchen and with the Pintupi people brought in from the west, helping them to adjust to the settlement lifestyle. He was one of the Papunya Town Councillors in the 70's and an accomplished wood carver before he took up painting.

Billy was one of the founders of the Papunya painting movement: watched over by Old Mick and Old Tim Onion, who gave permission for the use of their story. Billy, Kaapa, and long Jack Phillipus painted the Honey Ant Dreaming design on the school wall which set the painting movement in motion. An energetic campaigner in the outstation movement, he was one of the first to shift to his own outstation west of Papunya. His country lies west of Napperby station around Mt Denison, Ilpitirri and Yuendumu. He paints Budgerigar, Spider, Yam and Wild Potato Dreamings for this region.

Billy was a Central Australian delegate to the NAC during the 70's; Aboriginal Arts Board member 1975 - 79; and Chairman of Papunya Tula Artists during the 70's. Billy has visited the USA several times. The most memorable for the opening of the 'Dreamings: Art of Aboriginal Australia' exhibition in New York in 1988, also Papua New Guinea , New Zealand and the 'All Black Festival' in South Africa . He Occasionally paints in town, but mostly lives on his outstation at Ilili near Papunya. He and his wife Intinika have two sons and two daughters, of whom Gillian paints occasionally, having been taught by her father.


National Gallery of Australia , Canberra       Peter Styvesant Collection
Art Gallery Of South Australia                      South Australian Museum
Art Gallery of NSW                               Museums & Art Galleries of NT
Robert Holmes a' Court Collection           National Museum , Canberra

University of WA Anthropology Museum            Victorian Arts Centre
Flinders University Art Museum                 Campbelltown City Council
Michael Hollow Collection                    Richard Kelton Foundation USA
Donald Kahn Collection USA