Warlpiri people

Australia 1948 /1952 – 2013

Sandhills of Mina Mina 2000 Place made: Yuendumu, Western Desert, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on canvas

Dimensions: Unframed 198.0 h x 122.7 w x 3.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2001
Accession No: NGA 2001.61
Image rights: © Estate of Dorothy Napangardi. Licensed by Viscopy
  • Dorothy Napangardi’s homelands lie in the Lake Mackay area of the Tanami Desert, north of Yuendumu. She commenced her painting career in 1987 using the conventional designs and icons of desert art. Later she developed her own style of representing her country through minimalistic renditions of sandhills in intricate, repetitive lines of fine dots giving form and movement to the painting’s surface. It appears as though each grain of sand is highlighted along with delicate injections of coloured lines in yellow, red and orange that hint at the underlying surface of the shifting sands.

    The rippling effect of fine white dots lined up on the black background in Napangardi’s Sandhills of Mina Mina is like marble. Mina Mina is a large dry claypan area with two huge soakages. When water soaks through the earth and dries, a residue salt crust is left on the uplifted edges of dry earth—this is what Napangardi shows in her paintings.

    ‘Mina Mina’ is not only the name of the desert area, it is also the name of a highly significant women’s ceremonial site and Jukurrpa (or Dreaming) story. According to Napangardi, a group of ancestral Napangardi and Napanangka women gathered to collect ceremonial kuturu or digging sticks before performing ceremonies while travelling to Jankinyi, a site in the east. The tracks of the women on their journey match those of the salt lines formed in the desert. A stand of eucalyptus trees are the remains of the digging sticks at the site.

    Tina Baum

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010