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Artist BiographiesBiographies of Nyapari Artists


Below are some brief biographical details of various artists who work with the community art centre at Nyapari (Tjungu Palya Artists).


Eileen Yaritja Stevens

Born: c. 1920
Language: Pitjantjatjara
Community: Nyapari, South Australia

Eileen was born in the bush at Makiri in the north-west corner of South Australia between what are now the communities of Kaltjiti and Watarru. Her father was a Yangkunytjatjara man and her mother a Pitjantjatjara woman but Stevens identified herself as belonging to the Pitjantjatjara.

She grew up in the bush, living a traditional, nomadic way of life. When Eileen was a young woman she worked at Ernabella mission milking goats. "I was a hard worker at the mission, but it was good." Her husband also worked at Ernabella chopping trees for building projects. Later they came to Nyapari, Eileen's husband's country, after it was established in the mid-1970s.

She did not begin painting professionally until 2004, very late in her life. Her husband had died by that time and Stevens had become close friends with Wingu Tingima (see below). Tingima was already established as an artist and the two women began to paint for Nyapari's local community art centre, Tjungu Palya, after it was opened in 2006. Although she had a short career of less than four years, her art was immediately recognised and she had considerable success. She died in 2008.

Jimmy Baker

Born: c. 1915
Language: Pitjantjatjara
Community: Kanpi, South Australia

Jimmy was born along the Kalaya Tjukurpa (Emu Dreaming) track in the Western Desert at a rockhole called Malumpa (close to the present day community of Kanpi). He remembers as a young boy 'whitefellas' coming in on camels and asking to be led to waterholes. Later Jimmy moved to the mission at Ernabella where he worked as a shearer using hand held clippers. After the mission days Jimmy, along with key family members, promoted the establishment of a community at Kanpi so that they could live back in their own country.

Jimmy started painting in 2004, late in his life, and was already attracting attention by the time the 2005 Desert Mob exhibition was held in Alice Springs. In 2007 Jimmy was featured in the National Indigenous Art Triennial `07: Culture Warriors exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Jimmy was a custodian of the important Kalaya Tjukurpa (Emu Dreaming) as well as a number of other dreamings. When talking to Jimmy, he made no distinction between himself and the emu in the story. The man and the dreaming are one. "Me, I'm the emu. Me. I ate that turkey. Me. I did. See here (pointing to his breast bone where he bears a scar). See him there, that's where I ate him."

Jimmy spent his final years between Kanpi, Watarru and Alice Springs and passed away in 2010.

Maringka Baker

Born: c. 1952
Language: Pitjantjatjara
Community: Kanpi, South Australia

Maringka was born in the bush at Kaliumpil, a rock hole and traditional camping area in Western Australia. Maringka's parents died when she was a little girl and she was raised by the artist Anmanari Brown and members of her extended family. She spent much time with her brothers.

Maringka Baker

She started school at Warburton in WA but she ran away and travelled with her brother to Ernabella in SA. After a while they moved to Fregon where she finished her schooling and began teaching. Later she got a certificate in health and worked at the Irrunjtyu community clinic. She now works mainly at Kanpi in SA.

Maringka's works are held in a number of major public and private collections. She and Jimmy Baker were represented in the the inaugural National Indigenous Art Triennial Culture Warriors exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia.

She often paints the desert landscape in bright green colours and contrasts it against red and ochre to depict landforms. She also uses layers of contrasting colours to show the detail of the desert in full bloom.

Nyankulya Watson

Born: c.1938
Language: Pitjantjatjara
: Kalka, South Australia

Nyankulya was born at Mt Aloysius, at a rockhole not far from the tri state border, sometime around 1938. As a teenager she lived at Anumarapiti, now an outstation of Irrunytju. She remembers shortly after this time white fellas came and told her family to go to Ernabella. "It was good at the mission, there was lots of flour, tea and sugar. In the morning we would listen for the bell, then we would line up for food, go to church and then to work. Nyankulya was a founding member of Irrunytju Arts. She now lives at Kalka and Nyapari in SA.

Nyankulya Watson

Tinpulya Mervin

Born: 1945
Language: Pitjantjatjara
Community: Watarru, Western Australia

Tinpulya was born in the bush at Kelvin Well, a soak near Kunmapiti in SA. Her parents had travelled from Watarru to the mission at Ernabella where they worked as shepherds. As a child she remembers making the journey back to Watarru with her parents where they exchanged dingo skins for flour, tea and sugar. Tinpulya has a passion for teaching traditional law and culture to her grandchildren so they grow up strong and proud. She is a respected community leader.

David Miller

Born: 1950s
Language: Pitjantjatjara
Community: Kanpi, South Australia

Wingu Tingima


Born: c. 1920
Language: Pitjantjatjara
Community: Nyapari, South Australia

Wingu was born at a rockhole called Nyumun, in the Great Victoria Desert of WA. She grew up living a traditional way of life in the bush without any contact with the outside world. "I didn't go to school I was a bush girl!"

Later she travelled by foot with her mother and father to the mission at Ernabella, where she worked spinning wool to make things for the mission. She enjoyed this work.

Wingu Tingima

Along with her friend and colleague Eileen Yaritja Stevens, Wingu became one of the most well-known artists to paint in the style of the Western Desert. Although she only began painting less than 10 years before her death, Wingu's work is now held in many of Australia's major art collections.

She lived at Nyapari in SA and Irrunytju in WA, spending time with her two families. She died in 2010.


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