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Aboriginal Artist BiographiesBiographies of Wangkatjungka Artists


Short biographies are given below for a number of the Wangkatjungka artists represented on our Web site:

You can see works by these artists on our Wangkatjungka Paintings pages.

Penny K Lyons

Penny K. Lyons, of the Walmajarri language group was born at Wanywurtu under a tutujarti (desert walnut) tree. She grew up in that place with her family, one father, two mothers, one brother and two sisters. There is a rock hole with spring water at Wanywurtu and Penny remembers going walkabout for goanna and pussycat (feral cat) at this place.

Penny's family and other groups migrated north to the cattle station country surrounding the Fitzroy Valley. When they left the desert she was a girl in her early teens. During the journey she lost her mother's sister, then her father and mother. She was only a young girl and quite hysterical about losing her parents and wanted to keep looking for them. Her brother, Peter Skipper, got angry with her and left Penny and her little sister at Milidjidee near there and kept going.


Mildred Benny
Penny K Lyons

Penny K-Lyons beautiful paintings show the traditional waterholes and hunting grounds of the Great Sandy Desert, where she and her family lived up until the early 1950's.

Elsie Thomas

Elsie Thomas was born at Pinga Waterhole in the Great Sandy Desert around 1940. Her family left the country of Elsie's birth and moved to Thomas Springs, where they joined other families who were moving towards the cattle stations of the Fitzroy valley.

Many desert families camped at Thomas Springs. But new diseases they encountered there killed many of the older people as well as children. Elsie's father who had three wives was killed when police came and chained up several people and took them to Fitzroy Crossing. A large group of children then moved onto Christmas Creek station, to join other Wangkatjungka groups who had settled there. Elsie moved there with her grandfather. Elsie worked on Christmas Creek station. Her own family later grew up there.


Elsie Thomas
Elsie Thomas

Elsie's paintings have been exhibited in Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Broome. She also carves coolamons and other artifacts, and weaves baskets from spinifex grass and coloured wool.

Jean Tighe

Jean was born around 1940 at Lurrbungurr waterhole, towards Lake Gregory. She grew up speaking Walmajarri, her mother's language. Her bush name is Ngarru.

"Mother bin bring me to Christmas Creek as a baby. Grurngarl, that's the old name for this country." Jean knows her mother's stories, but not the stories from her father's country.

"When we go to Lake Gregory, we go to Halls Creek, Bililuna, Balgo, Mullan, down towards Lake Gregory. It's got blue water, like at Broome. Old man, husband, Tuilip Tighe, belong to this country. He was born at Christmas Creek. He's a Nalmajarri man. Father and mother and grandmother pass away here at Christmas Creek."
Jean Tighe

Jean worked at the manager's house at Christmas Creek until she moved to the Ngumpah community, nearer to the highway. Jean's husband worked in the stock camp at Christmas Creek. Jean has three grown up boys, Malcolm, Gordon and Daniel. "They bin born in hospital" And "too many" grandchildren now.

Jean started painting in 2003 in the Wangkatjungka Arts Project organised by Japingka Gallery.

Nora Tjookootja

Nora Tjookootja was born around 1945 at Liturwarti in the Great Sandy Desert. As a young child she left her home country and walked up the Canning Stock Route to Bililuna. Many desert people were moving north towards the white settlements of the Kimberley cattle station country.

Nora grew up at Bililuna. She lost her granny, mother and brother at Balgo. Nora's husband then brought her to Christmas Creek. She left three children behind at Bililuna. Her sister grew them up there. Then she had two children at Christmas Creek.

Nora Tjookootja

Nora Tjookootja paints the waterholes and bushtucker found throughout the country of her birth. To date Nora's paintings have been exhibited in Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Broome.

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