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Artist BiographiesBiographies of Yuendumu Artists


Below are some brief biographical details of various artists from the Yuendumu community who have paintings or prints on our Web site.

Dolly Nampijinpa Daniels

Born: c. 1934
Dreamings: Warlukurlangu (Fire), Yankirri (Emu), Watiyawarnu (Acacia Seed), Yumpulykanji (Burrowing Skink), Ngapa (Water).

Dolly Nampijinpa Daniels was born at Warlukurlangu, her Jukurrpa place, west of Yuendumu, in the bush. She lived for many years as a traditional nomad, hunting with her family. She moved with her husband to Mt. Doreen Station, after the death of her father and then to Yuendumu. With other Warlpiri people she was trucked to Lajamanu, another government settlement, but she got homesick for her country and together with her husband she walked back, more than 600 kms. Dolly first began painting with the anthropologist Francoise Dussart, who was recording body paint designs, and is a founding member of Warlukurlangu Artists.

Betsy Napangardi Lewis

Born: c. 1940
Location: Kunajarryi
Language: Warlpiri
Dreamings: Ngalyipi (Snake vine), Karnta (Women), Jintiparnta (Edible Fungus), Ngalyipi (Snake Vine), Mina Mina (Dreaming Site), Kurrkara (Dogwood).

Betsy Lewis was born at Kunajarryi, west of Yuendumu, in the bush before there were hospitals in the region. She moved to Mt. Doreen Station with her family when she was quite young, and was bought up by Paddy Japanangka Lewis. She went to school in Yuendumu and has lived there ever since, with sojourns in Nyirripi, a neighbouring community. She started painting in 1999 and has participated in a large number of group exhibitions and one jointly with Judy Watson.

Darby Jampitjinpa Ross

Born: circa. 1910 at Wakurlpa, near the present site of Yuendumu community.
Location: Yuendumu, Tanami Desert
Language: Warlpiri
Medium: acrylic paint on canvas and linen

Darby Jampiinpa Ross is one of the founding members of Warlukurlangu Artists. Painting since 1986, Darby has produced hundreds of paintings and exhibited worldwide. Recently he has produced a small series of limited edition prints.

Darby's paintings are held in many major collections of Aboriginal art, including the National Galleries of Victoria and Australia, Art Gallery of NSW and the Musee National des Arts Africains et Oceaniens, Paris. The main Jukurrpa (Dreamings) themes he paints are: Pamapardu (Flying Ant), Yankirri (Emu), Liwirringki (Burrowing Skink), Ngapa (Water), Wardilyka (Bush Turkey), Yakajirri (Bush Raisin) and Watiyawarnu (Acacia Seed).

Paddy Japaljarri Sims

Paddy was a Warlpiri speaker who was born some time around 1917 at Kunajarrayi (Mt Nicker) west of Yuendumu, in the Northern Territory. He passed away in 2010.

He was one of the truly outstanding artists of Yuendumu who has been an influential figure in the development of art in the region.

Paddy Sims at work
Paddy Sims at work

He had a distinctive style and painted a number of dreamings (Jukurrpa) connected with his country: Witi (Ceremonial Pole), Yanjirlypiri (Star), Yiwarra (Milky Way), Munga (Night), Ngarlkirdi (Witchetty Grub), Liwirringki (Burrowing Skink), Jungunypa (Marsupial Mouse), Mala (Rufous Hare Wallaby), Wakulyarri (Rock Wallaby), Warlu (Fire), Wanakiji (Bush Tomato), Ngalyipi (Snake Vine) and Jurlpu (Bird).

He is well known for his role in painting the Yuendumu Doors in 1983. Painting consistently on canvas since 1985, he worked on eight of the large collaborative canvases produced by Warlukurlangu Artists for museums and private collections. In 1989, Japaljarri was one of the few Warlpiri men selected to create a major ground painting installation for the 'Magiciens de la Terre' exhibition in Paris. Paddy has exhibited in over 80 group exhibitions since 1985, with considerable success. He is married to Bessie Nakamarra Sims with whom he occasionally collaborates on larger works. A long term committee member of Warlukurlangu Artists, Japaljarri was a strong supporter of the centre and encouraged his children and grandchildren to paint there.

Bessie Nakamarra Sims

Born: c.1932
Location: Yuendumu, Tanami Desert
Language: Warlpiri
Medium: acrylic paint on canvas and linen

Bessie Sims is one of the strongest supporters of Warlukurlangu Artists. She has painted since the mid 1980s and has consistently exhibited nationally and internationally in group shows. Her husband is Paddy Japaljarri Sims with whom she occasionally collaborates on larger works. The main dreamings in her work are Ngarlajiyi (Small Yam), Janganpa (Possum), Pamapardu (Flying Ant), Karntajarra (Two Women), Yarla (Bush Potato) and Mukaki (Bush Plum).

Bessie Nakamarra Sims

Paddy Japaljarri Stewart

Born: c.1940
Location: Yuendumu, Tanami Desert
Language: Warlpiri
Medium: acrylic paint on canvas and linen

Paddy Japaljarri Stewart was among the men who painted the original Papunya school murals. In 1983, Japaljarri painted 20 of the 36 Yuendumu Doors and has been a strong supporter of cultural programmes in the school since then.

Paddy Japaltjarri Stewart

In 1989, Japaljarri was one of the Warlpiri men selected to create a significant ground painting installation for the 'Magiciens de la Terre' exhibition in Paris. He has exhibited nationally and internationally since 1985 in over 50 group exhibitions. Japaljarri is among the most consistent members of Warlukurlangu Artists and currently is the chairman of the committee.

Watson, Maggie Napangardi (formerly Maggie Napangardi Ross)

Born: c.1920 or 1925, died 2004
Location: Yuendumu, Tanami Desert
Language: Warlpiri
Medium: acrylic paint on canvas and linen

Maggie Watson is one of the senior Warlpiri women artists at Yuendumu. Her interest in rendering traditional women's designs in western materials was one of the driving forces behind early experiments with canvas at the community. Her work was included in the first exhibition of Yuendumu paintings at the Araluen Arts Centre in Alice Springs in October 1985. Since then she has shown in numerous exhibitions of Warlukurlangu Artists in cities around Australia, as well as in the 'Yuendumu: Paintings out of the Desert', SA Museum exhibition in 1988 and the exhibition "Power of the Land - Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art" at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1994.

Watson, Judy Napangardi

Born: c. 1925
Location: Yuendumu, Tanami Desert
Language: Warlpiri
Medium: acrylic paint on canvas and linen
Judy Napangardi Watson

Judy's country is Mina Mina, an important women's Dreaming site 200 km west of Yuendumu. Most of her works depict Mina Mina or Dreamings connected to it: Karnta (Women), Kanakurlangu (Digging Stick), Ngalyipi (Snake Vine), Yunkaranyi (Honey Ant), Jintiparnta (Native Truffle) and Majardi (Hair String Belt).

She has painted with Warlukurlangu Artists since 1986, is a committee member of the association, and is one of its most accomplished and prolific artists. With her sister, Maggie Napangardi Watson, Judy has developed a popular and distinctive style of contrasting lines of colour with richly textured surfaces. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions and her work is held in major collections.

Go to Page 2 of Yuendumu artists biographies


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