Dorothy Napangardi



DOB: Early 1950s
Born: Mina Mina, Tanami Desert, NT
Language Walpiri
Skin Napangardi
Community Warlukurlangu, Yuendumu

About Artist:
Dorothy Napangardi was regarded as one of Australia's leading contemporary Aboriginal artists. Sadly, she passed away in a car accident while on a hunting trip in June 2013.

She was born in the community of Mina Mina near Lake Mackay in the Tanami Desert in the early 1950s and first began to paint in 1987.

Her works are contained in major collections around the world and she was awarded the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2001 after being awarded Finalist Status in both 1991 and 1999. She participated in many exhibitions including a feature show at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art.

Her work is included in the Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, CA, USA; the Kaplan-Levi Collection, Seattle, USA; the Vroom Collection, The Netherlands; the Linden-Museum, Stuttgart, Germany; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Queensland Museum, Brisbane. She lived and worked in Alice Springs and was represented by Gallery Gondwana in Alice Springs and Sydney until recently when she returned to paint at her Community Art Centre at Warlukurlangu at Yuendumu which is the source of provenance for the paintings and prints at Tali Gallery.

Dorothy was the daughter of Jeannie Lewis Napururrla and Paddy Lewis Japanangka.
Napangardi (in Warlpiri) is a skin name, - and it is one of sixteen used to denote the subsections or subgroups in the kinship system of central Australian Indigenous people. These names define kinship relationships that influence preferred marriage partners and may be associated with particular totems. Although they may be used as terms of address, they are not surnames in the sense used by Europeans. Thus 'Dorothy' is the element of the artist's name that is specifically hers.

She grew up in the settlement town of Yuendumu, and spent most of her life in Alice Springs, where she began painting in 1987.

She had little formal schooling, but was instructed in Cultural Dreamings. 'Dreaming' is a loose English translation of the Warlpiri word 'Jukurrpa' which describes the origins and journeys of ancestral beings and identifes the sacred places where the spirits are found. The Jukurrpa theme usually includes being part of and travelling across country. These are very much the themes of Dorothy Napangardi's art, with its profusion of intersecting lines suggesting spiritual meaning and evocative depth. In the words of a Warlpiri speaker quoted in a catalogue of Napangardiís work: "To me, Dorothyís work is like Yapa (people) running through and across their country, moving across their pathways when they go travelling."