He was born around 1935 in Western Australia, near the
junction of the border with the Northern Territory and South Australia and is a senior
Pitjantjatara elder. His given names of Yannima and Pikarli relate to specific sites near
Anumarapiti, located 75 Kilometers West of the small community of Irrunytju.
Nicodemus Watson was a strong father figure, and tought young Tommy
the traditional skills of hunting and gathering necessary for survival
in the harsh Australian desert. He learnt the traditional skills of hunting, toolmaking,
weapons making, and how to find water. Such skills that are essential for survival in
such a harsh envirionment.
Tommy was sent to school at the Ernabella Mission which opened in 1940.
He was not at Ernabella for long before he was taken back to his community to be initiated.
His upbringing is similar to that of many Indigenous people born in that era.
He lived a traditional nomadic existence, and worked as a stockman and labourer.
During his time working at Papunya he met the school teacher Geoffrey Bardon who was
instrumental in developing the western desert art movement.
Watson keeps the sacred meanings of his paintings private. He doesn't explain their
spiritual meaning. His paintings can be described in abstract expressionist.
The colours and abstract shapes are stunningly beautiful.