Mitjili Napurrula: untitled

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Mitjili Napurrula: untitled


Untitled polymer paint on linen painting by Mitjili Napurrula.

Donated by Mr Chris Simon, Yanda Aboriginal Art, Alice Springs, NT.

  • Polymer paint on linen
  • 1500 x 1800 mm
  • 2002

Mitjili Napurrula began painting on canvas in the early 1990s. Her bold works connect landscape, plant forms and her father’s Tjukurrpa (Dreaming) and country. She is a custodian of her father’s kulata or spear dreaming. This was taught to her by her mother following the artist’s marriage at Papunya in the 1960s to Long Tom Tjapanangka, a senior painter.

In this painting the rhythmic patterns of stem and leaf shapes which pulsate across the canvas refer to watiya tjuta or many trees. More specifically, they are connected with plants such as the tecoma vine, which is used to create shafts for hunting spears (kulata). The word wati refers to an initiated male, so the production of masculine weapons such as spears can also be associated with watiya. Spear-making is an important aspect of traditional men’s business and while stylised forms of trees and roots are common in Mitjili Napurrula’s paintings, it is unusual for a woman to paint such Dreamings. Trees used for spear making are abundant in Mitjili Napurrula’s father’s country in the Gibson Desert south of Kintore NT, where the landscape is dotted with desert oaks, rocky outcrops and red sand hills. A line of rolling hills stretches across the top of this canvas, connecting the work with physical features of her father’s country in a nearby area south of Kintore.

From material supplied by Dr Lisa Chandler.

Wondervision Postcard 7 

  1. Research the area between Haasts’ Bluff and Kintore. Google Maps is a useful tool for this. What words would you use to describe this country? Make a list of ten words that you think do this well.
  2. Watch this brief video clip about spear making.
  3. Research the art style of her brother, Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula. Can you find similarities? If so, what are they?
  4. Describe the landscape and other features that can be found in this artwork. If you completed Activity One and kept good notes, you should be able to make sense of this artwork.
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