Mitjili NAPURRULA, Uwalki: Watiya Tjuta Enlarge 1 /1

Mitjili NAPURRULA

Pintupi people

Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory, Australia born 1943 /1947

Uwalki: Watiya Tjuta [(IK 98MN49)] 1998 Place made: Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on canvas

Dimensions: 198.0 h x 183.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1998
Accession No: NGA 98.142
Image rights: © the artist licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd

Mitjili Napurrula’s distinct style of painting relates to Uwalki, her father Tupa Tjakamarra’s Tjukurrpa or Dreaming, located in an area west of Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff) near the Kintore Ranges. Uwalki: Watiya Tjutarefers to the story of the spear-straightening ceremony taught to Mitjili by her mother Tjunkiya Napaltjarri (born 1928), an artist in her own right. Married to Long Tom Tjapanangka, Napurrula observed her husband and the other artists painting at Papunya. Her first paintings followed the characteristic Papunya manner, before she developed and settled on her own distinct style in 1993.

Uwalki: Watiya Tjutarelates to areas of red sandhills and ground bushes where the spearwood trees, from which the men make their spears, can be found. Napurrula’s brother Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula (c 1945–2001), another Papunya artist, is renowned for his paintings of the making and straightening of spears from the Uwalki Dreaming. Napurrula has created a stunning surface of positive and negative shapes through her use of contrasting reds, oranges and yellows—the trees, tall with multiple branches, are closely spaced as though in a field laid out ready for harvesting.

Napurrula is also custodian of the Kulata(Spear), Wangunu or Portulaca (Seed) and Arkatjirri (Sultana) Dreamings.

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