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Mitjili Napurrula

Born: November 1978
Area: Ikuntji
Skin Name: N/A

Born at Haasts Bluff, Mitjili Napurrula is the daughter of Tupa Tjakamarra (now deceased) and Tjunkiya Napaltjarri. Mitjili came in from the desert with her mother. Dispossession and drought were only two of the factors that led to a series of migrations from the desert to mission or government settlements in the mid-twentieth century. Following the outstation movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Aboriginal communities sprang up throughout the region, each home to a distinctive art movement. Mitjili’s brother, Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula, was one of the founding members of the Papunya Tula Artists cooperative. Mitjili and Turkey Tolson had the same father, from whom they inherited the right to paint works related to llyingaungau in the Gibson Desert. This site, south of Kintore, is where the artist’s Mutikatjirri ancestors assembled their kulata (spears) for a conflict with the Tjukula men. Allusive works that refer to the straightening of kulata by Tjupurrula are among the landmark painting of the movement’s 30-year history.

Mitjili is married to Long Tom Tjapanangka, a very well-known artist from Haasts Bluff. She remembers, ‘…After I got married, my mother taught me my father’s Tjukurrpa in the sand, that’s what I’m painting on the canvas’, a women’s interpretation. This dreaming depicts the making of spears, an important aspect of men’s business. The straightening of spears was often painted by her brother turkey Tolson. Her paintings usually relate to wooden objects and their sources, such as trees from which the spear shafts and other objects are made. Mitjili works show a strong use of pattern in formal arrangements. She commenced painting in 1993 and at first followed the style of painting of the Papunya Tula artists from Papunya; she then developed her own style, a simplified design in striking colours. She lives and paints in Haasts Bluff.

Selected exhibitions:

1993, 1994, 1996, 1998 Australian Heritage Art award, Canberra; 1994,1997, 1998, 1999 Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs; 1994 gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; 1994 Hotel Shangri-la and Australian High Commission, Singapore; 1994, 1998 Adelaide Fringe festival; 1994 Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney; 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 Museum and art Gallery of the Northern Territory; 1995 Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne; 1995, 1997, 1999 Hogarth galleries, Sydney; 1996 Gallerie Australis Adelaide; 1996 “The Meeting Place” – touring exhibition, Australia; 1996, 1998, 2000Niagara Galleries, Melbourne; 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002 Aboriginal art galerie Bahr, Speyer, Germany; 1997 Goteborgs Konstforening, Goteborg, Sweden; 1997 Arnhem, The Netherlands; 1997 Alliance Francaise, Canberra; 1998 Art Gallery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; 1998 Spazio Pitti Arte Florence, Italy; 1998 Framed Gallery, Darwin; 1998 Gallerie Dusseldorf, Perth; 1998 Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs; 1998 Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne; 1998 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne; 1999 Flinders Art Museum Flinders University, Adelaide;1999 fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, U.S.A; 2000 Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; 2001 Galerie Knud Grothe, Charlottenlund, Denmark.

Selected collections:

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide; Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney; Arbank; Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs; Edith Cowan University Art Collection, Perth; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.


1997, finalist 14th Telstra NATSIAA; 1999 Alice Prize (Central Australian Art Award), Alice Springs.

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