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Artist BiographiesBiographies of Papunya Artists

Gwion


Below are some biographical details of various artists from the Papunya and Kintore communities who have paintings on our Web site.

Denis Nelson Tjakamarra

Denis Nelson Tjakamarra was born around 1964 and is a Luritja speaker. He is the son of celebrated aboriginal artist Johnny Warrungkula Tjupurrula, who was among the first Aboriginal men to paint their dreaming stories on canvas in the early 1970s. Denis has been painting since the late 1980s. He paints emu and water dreaming from his country at Kalipinpa (about 200 km north west of Papunya) as well as the dreaming his father has taught him.

Denis Nelson Tjakamarra

Denis speaks very good English and has worked as a teacher at the Papunya school helping to overcome the language barrier for the children. He says he enjoys the school holidays as he can spend more time expressing  his traditional beliefs through his paintings.

Alison Anderson

Alison Nampitjinpa Anderson was born in 1958 at Haasts Bluff, a nearby community in the Papunya region. Alison has been living in Papunya the majority of her life and is a Luritja speaker. Alison attended school in Alice Springs and completed year 10 and then started working for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. In 1981 she worked as a clerk for Papunya Community and was later promoted to the Administrator for the Council.
Alison Anderson

Alison's role as an administrator for Papunya Community Council covers many responsibilities and she is called upon to translate and act as a go between for the people of Papunya and other communities. Many of the older artists who began painting in the 1970s look to Alison for guidance as she has the ability and knowledge to understand the artists' needs (being an artist herself).

Alison began painting her father's and grandfather's dreaming approximately nine years ago. Her family are important custodians of many Water Dreamings in the Papunya area, Mikantji being an important site. Water Dreaming can be a great storm as it brings on the lightning, thunderclouds, rain and sometimes hail, sending its deluge to rejuvenate the earth, filling rockholes, claypans and creeks. It has the power to create new life and growth upon the land which is vital for survival in the desert.

Alison also paints bush potato and bush onions, these being her Grandmother's dreaming from the country of Mount Wedge which is also in the Papunya region. Alison has been represented in several major Aboriginal art exhibitions at the Araulen Arts Centre in Alice Springs as well as in the Holmes a Court collection.

Dinny Nolan

Dinny Nolan's birth date is uncertain. The artist says he survived the Coniston massacre of 1928, which would make him well over 70 years of age. He was born near Mt Allan, close to present-day Yuendumu, and is a Warlpiri speaker. He is a senior custodian and law man, with responsibility for rain making and water dreaming ceremonies. Dinny worked as a stockman across much of the Northern Territory before settling at Papunya in the mid 1970s, and was among the first of Aboriginal men to paint on canvas under the influence of Geoff Bardon, who entered the community at that same time.

Dinny Nolan

In 1981 he visited Sydney with Paddy Carroll to make the first large scale sand painting ever seen outside of central Australia. Dinny has traveled extensively in Australia and overseas - in 1991 he traveled to the United States with Paddy Carroll on a working exhibition across the country.

Ewari Nungala

Ewari Nungala is an elder woman in the community of Papunya. She has lived in Papunya for many years with her family and continues to do so today. Erawi is a skilled painter and is also recognised as an outstanding craftsperson who makes coolamons, music sticks, and weaves baskets.
Ewari Nungala

Don Tjungarrayi

Don Tjungarrayi

Don Tjungarrayi was born 'out bush' near Yupirirri some time around 1939 and is a Warlpiri and Luritja speaker. He attended school as a boy at the Yuendumu settlement but preferred the life of a stockman and fencing contractor on cattle stations in the western desert. He settled at Papunya in the late 1970s. There he began painting under the guidance of his elder stepbrother, Paddy Carroll Tjungarrayi. He has painted steadily since then and his work is included in many public and private collections. In 1986 he won the Alice Springs Art prize. Don is married to Entalura Nungala, a senior women of the Papunya Community who is also a renowned artist.

William Sandy

William Sandy is a Pitjantjatjara man who was born near Ernabella, in the far north of South Australia, some time around 1944. He attended the mission school there. He moved to Papunya in the mid 1970s where he began painting, and now lives with his family. He paints dingo, emu, woman, green bean and other Dreaming stories for his traditional country around Ernabella. He made his first paintings in 1975 after watching other artists at work, but did not become a regular painter until the 1980s when he began working with Papunya Tula.
William Sandy

He won the Northern Territory Art Award in 1985. William is a well respected artist who was involved in two international exhibitions in the late 1980s in the United States and has had a solo exhibition since. His work is held in public and private collections.

Long Jack Phillipus

Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra is a Warlpiri and Luritja speaker who was born at Kalipinpa (north west of Papunya) some time around 1932. He was among the first of the Aboriginal men to paint on canvas under Geoffrey Bardon's influence in the early 1970s, and has painted intermittently since then.

Long Jack is a highly respected elder in the Papunya Community who has a strong influence on the young people, particularly in maintaining their traditional ways.

Long Jack

In 1983 he won the Northern Territory Golden Jubilee Art Award and in 1984 he won the Alice Springs Art prize. In that year he was also ordained as a Lutheran pastor. He lives in Papunya and is close to his 'brother' Michael Nelson, with whom his family camped at Haasts Bluff before the Papunya settlement was established.

 

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