Tjungkara Ken Amata APY Lands, SA; Australian, b. 1969


Tjungkara Ken (born 1 October 1969) is a Pitjantjatjara artist from Amata, SA APY Lands. She began painting in 1997 when Minymaku Arts was opened by the women of Amaṯa and started painting professionally in 2008. By that time, the artists' co-operative had been renamed Tajala Arts, although Ken spends her time painting here and for Yanda Art in Alice Springs.


Ken's paintings depict stories and figures from her personal Tjukurpa, the spirituality that is associated with her ancestor's homeland. Her father is from the country around Amaṯa and Walitjara, and Ken most often depicts this country and its Tjukurpa in her paintings. She also illustrates her mother's country, which is further west, near Irrunytju in Western Australia.


Ken's paintings have been featured in group exhibitions in many of Australia's major cities. Some of her work was also part of an exhibition in Graz, Austria in 2002. One of her paintings, titled Ngayuku Ngura – My Country, was chosen as a finalist for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2010.


A painting depicting the Kungkarungkara (Seven Sisters Dreaming), was chosen by the Art Gallery of South Australia as the prize for a competition run during the Gallery's Desert Country exhibition in 2011 Ken's painting from the Art Gallery of South Australia's permanent collection was also included in the exhibition and featured on the cover of the Desert Country catalogue. The exhibition featured works by several artists from across the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, including Marinka Baker, Nura Rupert and Jimmy Baker.


Examples of Ken's work are shown in the National Gallery of Victoria the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Australia. Her works are also held in several major private galleries in Australia and Internationally.


Ken was an Archibald Prize finalist in 2017 with her Kungkarangkalpa tjukurpa (Seven Sisters dreaming), a self-portrait She was awarded the Roberts Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prize for Seven Sisters, her entry in the 2021 Wynne Prize.


There are many other artists in Ken's extended family. When working with her four sisters- Yaritji Young, Freda Brady, Sandra Ken and Maingka Tunkin, the group is known as the Ken Sisters.