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Dorothy Napangardi

Dorothy Napangardi Art

Dorothy Napangardi is of the Warlpiri language group. She was born in approximately 1952 at Mina Mina to the west of Yuendumu in the Tanami Desert of the Northern Territory, approximately 420 km north-west of Alice Springs. Sadly Dorothy died in a car accident on 1st June 2013. Dorothy had a very individual painting style which she developed by elaborating on the traditional designs of the Kurawarri (Dreaming). The consistently high quality of her work was winning her acclaim as a fine artist of distinction.

Dorothy was one of the traditional owners of Mina Mina, through which her ancestry linked her to the Dreaming. Her kinship responsibility was to her subsection group of Napangardi/Napanangka. They must know the songs, dances, rituals and body paint designs to ensure that this knowledge is passed on to their nieces as is the obligation of traditional law. Artists often refer to this as “keeping the Dreaming strong”.

Mina Mina is a highly significant sacred site as it is the point of origin for Karntakurlangu Jukurrpa (Women’s Dreaming) for not only the Warlpiri but also for the Kukuja whose traditional lands are to the west. It was at Mina Mina during the Jukurrpa (Creation Era) that digging sticks that had emerged from the earth, were taken by ancestral women as they commenced their journey along the Dreaming route travelling east. Today these digging sticks are represented by the kurrkara (desert oaks) at the site. Mina Mina consists of two large claypans with several mulju (water soakages).

Dorothy grew up in a traditional Aboriginal social environment and first came in contact with white society when the family walked into the pastoral station of Mt Doreen. She learnt the law and the stories associated with her country whilst walking the desert with her parents and siblings as a young girl. In turn, her five daughters will learn by watching and listening to their mother, aunties, and grandparents singing the song cycles that belong to the country she painted. Belonging to the Napangardi/Napanangka skin group, Dorothy also painted the Bush Plum Dreaming.

As part of the adjustment to the changing lifestyles brought about by European settlement, the acrylic movement has become increasingly important as a medium through which the Dreaming is passed from generation to generation.


2002 “One Mother”, Dorothy Napangardi and Sabrina Nangala. Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs; 2001 “Dorothy Napangardi’, New Paintings, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Victoria, Australia; 2001 31st Alice Prize, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia; 2001 ‘Masterwork”, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Victoria, Australia;2001 18th National aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin, Australia; 2001 Mina Mina, Solo, Dorothy Napangardi – Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, Australia; 2001 Dreamtime-The Light and the Dark, Sammlung Essi, Klosterneuburg, Vienna, Austria; 2001 Country after Rain, Framed-The Darwin Gallery, Darwin; 2001 alice.fitzroy@af, Alliance Francaise de Canberra and French Embassy, Canberra, Australia; 2000-01 The Art of Place Exhibition, Australian Heritage Commission, Ole Parliament House Canberra; 2000 Melbourne Art Fair 2000, Melbourne; 2000 Songlines: Walala Tjapaltjarri & Dorothy Napangardi, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, UK; 2000 Dorothy Napangardi and Walala Tjapaltjarri, Adelaide Festival, Gallery Australis, SA, Australia; 2000 17yh National Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Art Award, Darwin; 2000 Recent Paintings by Dorothy Napangardi, Vivian Anderson Gallery, Melbourne; 2000 Dorothy Napangardi, Hogarth Gallery, NSW; 2000 5th National Indigenous Heritage Art Award, Australian heritage Commission, Canberra; 1999 Painting the Desert, Alliance Francaise de Canberra and French Embassy, Canberra; 1999 The Redlands Westpac Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery NSW; 1999 My Counrty-Journey of our Ancestors, Ancient Earth Indigenous Art, Cairns, QLD; 1999 16th National aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award, Darwin; 1999 Recent works by Dorothy Napangardi, Chapman Gallery, Canberra; 1999 Recent works by Dorothy Napangardi and Walala Tjapaltjarri, Vivian Anderson Gallery; 1999 Treading Softly, Chapman Gallery Canberra; 1998 Northern Territory Art Award, Alice Springs NT; 1998 Warlpiri women, Gallery Gondwana , Alice Springs; 1998 Napangardi dreaming – Ceremony and song, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney NSW; 1998 15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin; 1991 8th National Aboriginal Art Award, Darwin.


8th National Aboriginal Art Award, Darwin; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia; National Gallery of Victoria, Victoria; Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin; Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany; The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, LA, USA; The Kaplan-Levi Collection, Seattle, USA;

The Vroom Collection, The Netherlands; The Erskine Collection, NSW; The Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth, WA; The Australia Council Collection, Sydney; The Homesglen Institute of TAFE Collection, Victoria, Australia.


2001 First prize, 18th National aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin; 1999 Highly Commended, 16th National aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin; 1998 Northern Territory Art Award, Alice Springs, NT; 1991 Best Painting in European Media, 8th National Aboriginal Art Award, Darwin, NT.

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