Yannima Tommy Watson was born at Anamarapiti, circa 1935 approximately 40 kilometres west of the small community of Irrunytju which is situated in Western Australia near the tri-state border of Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory . Whilst growing up Tommy learned to appreciate the significance of social organization and the spiritual and tribal law teachings of his ancestors.
His work is rich in the awareness of the topographical land forms of his country and the Tjukurrpa law that underlies it. He paints the stories of his mothers and grandfather’s country recounting the sacred dreamtime stories spontaneous using large vibrant colorful dots of pinks, burgundy, orange and reds to highlight the dreamtime journeys of the ancient spirits and important events in the history of his ancestors.
Tommy’s most important dream time stories refer to the Great Flood Dreaming, a story of the melting ice that flooded the lands north of the Great Australian Bight. Other stories relate to Pangkalangku, tall man eaters from the north east and also of the tribal disputes between the Pitjantjatjarra and the Yankunyatjarra.
His paintings are widely exhibited both nationally and internationally and in many important private collections. Today he is recognized as being one of Australia’s most famous indigenous painters. He was commissioned in 2005 to produce artwork to be permanently installed in the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris, France, which opened in 2006. The painting Wipu rockhole (2006) was enlarged and reproduced on stainless steel tiles which adorn a ceiling within the museum.