Rosella Namok’s New Paintings of the Queensland Coast


Sunset Rain

The weather is breaking along the north Queensland coast and the Wet season is on its way. Rosella Namok has captured some of the rainy season in Cairns in a new series of paintings that have just arrived at Japingka Gallery. Titles like ‘Late Afternoon – Stinging Rain’ and ‘Salmon Season – Shower Rain’ give a sense of how the time of day and the light effect the way the artist has developed these artworks.

These paintings are luminous with colour and heavy with the sense of impending rainstorm. Rosella Namok has been a firm favourite with buyers, flowing from her November 2013 exhibition at Japingka Gallery, entitled Naagchi Ngumu’luugku – I Come from Here – Lockhart River, Cape York.

Rosella has enjoyed success with her art career both nationally and internationally, with over 30 exhibitions and representation in all major Australian public galleries. Two of her artworks were commissioned  in 2013 to become remarkable backdrops for the performance of Stravinsky’s ballet the ‘Rite of Spring’ in the USA. Her dramatic large scale paintings lend themselves beautifully to this type of impressive display.

We look forward to seeing more of Rosella’s artworks in the gallery. See some of the new paintings here.



Seven Sisters Dreaming

Warlpiri Star Gazers Dazzle at Japingka

Seven Sisters DreamingIt would be fair to say that we’re all a little starstruck right now at Japingka as we’re hanging the paintings for our Warlpiri Star Gazers exhibition.

It’s not surprising that the contemporary Aboriginal art movement bought us a number of artists who passionately follow astronomical themes in their painting.

It’s clear that historically Aboriginal people took a lot of notice of the stars. As nomads they used astronomy to plan many of their activities. Decisions such as the direction to travel, when to travel and times for hunting were influenced by the stars. Astronomy was also the inspiration for important stories across many tribal groups.

This next exhibition Warlpiri Star Gazers opens in Gallery1 from 21 November to 23 December and showcases some of the artists who draw on the stars for their inspiration.

Perhaps the best known of these is the Warlpiri artist Alma Nungarrayi Granites. Alma is known for her paintings of the Seven Sisters Dreaming.

Seven Sister Dreaming Story
These paintings tell of how the ancestral Napaljarri sisters formed in the star cluster known as the Pleiades.The Pleiades are seven women who are depicted in this Jukurrpa carrying the Jampijinpa man Wardilyka. This man is in love with the Napaljarri-warnu and who is represented in the Orion’s Belt cluster of stars. Jukurra-jukurra, the morning star, is a Jakamarra man who is also in love with the seven Napaljarri sisters. In paintings he is often shown chasing them across the night sky. In a final attempt to escape from the Jakamarra, the Napaljarri-warnu turned themselves into fire and ascended to the heavens to become stars.

Other artists represented in our Warlpiri Star Gazers exhibition include; Christine Napanangka Michaels, Murdie Nampijinpa Morris, Nola Napangardi Wilson Fisher, Valerie Napurrurla Morris, Stephanie Napurrurla Nelson, Walter Jangala Brown and many others.

It’s a stunning collection and we can’t wait to share it with you.

Read more: Warlpiri Star Gazers

Linda Syddick Napaltjarri

The Remarkable Life of Linda Syddick Napaltjarri

Linda Syddick Napaltjarri

Linda Syddick Napaltjarri

We have an exhibition of works by Linda Syddick Napaltjarri coming up so I thought it might be interesting to talk a little about her life.

Linda was born in 1937. She is a Pintupi woman from Lake MacKay in the Gibson Desert in Western Australia. Linda’s Aboriginal name is Tjunkiya Wukula Napaltjarri. She lived a traditional nomadic life with her people until the age of about eight. At this time her family walked out of the desert and decided to settle at the Lutheran Mission at Haasts Bluff in the Northern Territory.

Linda’s father was killed when she was young. Her mother later married artist Shorty Lungkarta Tjungarrayi. His work was a significant influence on Linda’s painting. Linda married several times, and still uses the family name of her second husband Musty Syddick (Cedick).

Linda Syddick Napaltjarri collects the stories from her life into a series of images that represent the major turning points in her journey. One such incident was the first contact experience when her family group first encountered white people. Linda Syddick Napaltjarri was an eight year old child at the time and it was an memorable event in her life.

She tells the story of how a traditional medicine man followed with their party first encountered a windmill at Mt Liebig. While Linda’s adoptive father, Shorty Lankata Tjungurrayi, had contact with white settlers before, most of the party had not.

Linda Syddick Napaltjarri recounts how the witchdoctor drew on bush magic to quell the fierce windmill that he saw in the early morning. Looking more like a demonic spirit, the windmill proved to be immune the old witchdoctor’s magic. It was Linda’s father who finally was able to persuade the old man that the machine was not an evil spirit.

This story and other stories of desert survival are direct from the voice of someone who was there at those first encounters. Linda Syddick Napaltjarri draws on metaphysical stories she later learned in the mission settlements and fused them with her memories of the desert and Tingari Creation events.

Linda first exhibited her work in Alice Springs in 1991. Her work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Linda’s work has been shown at Japingka in four previous exhibitions.

We are delighted to be exhibiting her work in Gallery 2 from 21 November – 23 December 2014.

Further Information:

Ormay 2

How To Use Aboriginal Art In A Workplace Culture

We are fascinated to learn about how aboriginal art resonates with scientific thinkers.

For several years biochemist Professor Nadia Rosenthal has been collecting aboriginal art and hanging it in her workplace, the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University.

Recently we got to sit down with her and ask about how these paintings contribute to the development of a workplace culture. Here is a summary of the key benefits.

Aboriginal Art Can Promote Communication

The Institute has 250 scientists and staff and Nadia believes that the paintings help with communication by keeping people talking to each other.

Aboriginal Art Can Create Attractive Workspaces

Nadia talks about the value of having beautiful things in the workplace and how much scientific workplaces are changing.

Nadia says, “These days, we’re much more sensitive to the fact that people are likely to come to work and stay at work if it’s actually a nice place to spend some time.”

Aboriginal Art Can Reinforce Australian Identity

The Institute attracts visitors from all over the world. The aboriginal art on the walls of the Institute helps define it as an Australian place.

You can read more about the role of art in Nadia’s workplace culture in this article Aboriginal Art and a Workplace Culture of Creativity.

Seven Sisters Dreaming

The Story Behind Star Gazers

44 yy

Star Gazer

Knowledge of the deep solar system and local Indigenous knowledge of the stars are fused in the current exhibition Shared Sky at the John Curtin Gallery at Curtin University, open until 2nd November. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with Yamaji Art Centre, Geraldton, the international SKA Organisation; SKA-South Africa; SKA-Australia and the First People Centre, Bethesda Arts Centre, Nieu Bethesda, South Africa.

The exhibition focuses on the shared knowledge of the Square Kilometre radio telescope project, hosted in Australia and South Africa. It explores the traditional stories of Indigenous people from both regions of these continents, whose ancient knowledge of astronomy is deeply embedded in their cultures.

Astronomy was an important source of knowledge for Aboriginal people across the Australian continent. It is used in measuring the seasons and the calendar, for the cycles of localised food sources, and for directions by night. The knowledge of astronomy is embedded in the ancient Law stories carried by Aboriginal people over vast periods of time.

The Warlpiri people of the Tanami Desert include families who are custodians of the Jukurrpa or Dreamtime Law story of the Seven Sisters, the Pleaides. This knowledge is shared over a wide territory and by many different language groups. Artists from the Central Desert communities of Nirripi and Yuendumu have long painted these stories, and in more recent times have exhibited contemporary visions of the  Yanjirlpirri Jukurrpa (Star Dreaming) at their exhibitions at Japingka Gallery.

To see the artists’ work of these fascinating stories visit the exhibition page or view the exhibition live at Japingka Gallery from 21 November to 23 December 2014.

Roy Underwood in London

Spinifex Artists are a Special Group of Desert Painters

Roy Underwood in LondonThe Spinifex artists have returned for their latest exhibition at Japingka Gallery, where they first began exhibiting in 2002.  From their homelands in the Great Victoria Desert, the Spinifex people were displaced at the time of the Maralinga nuclear tests during the 1950s and 1960s. Returning to their traditional country had been a cherished goal but also a gradual and arduous process.

But they have succeeded – returning to their country and gaining Native Title to their homelands in 2000. By painting their knowledge of the country, the Spinifex artists have shown how family connections link them to waterholes and sacred sites on ancestral country. The British Museum has collected their artworks, as has the Western Australian Museum and many major private collectors. See the exhibition between 10th October and 7th November 2014. More artworks can be found here.

Iwantja Artists Exhibition – Successful Conclusion

Iwantja Artists at Japinkga Gallery, September 2014Congratulations to Iwantja artists for their high quality exhibition presented during September. Paintings have found new homes in USA, Malaysia, Canada and Israel, as well as cities across Australia. Iwantja is at a relatively early stage of setting up its artists’ reputations, so this response is very gratifying.

With twelve artists exhibiting from this small community, the range of paintings is diverse, from subtle Dreaming images from Maringka Burton, to more expressive paintings of  ‘Country Remembered’ by Angkuna Baker, Kanakiya Tjanyari and Mary Brumby. And Tiger Yaltangki always delights viewers with his bold drawing and rich colours. As the exhibition draws to a close, we hope new viewers will continue to visit the show online, as there remains some new paintings and some high quality works that are still available. The exhibition can be found here.

Artwork Exhibition by Iwantja Artists OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA _SDR3357 _SDR3358

Spinifex Women's Collaborative, Kungkarangkalpa

Here’s Our New Exhibition From The Spinifex Arts Project

Myrtle Pennington, Spinifex Arts Project

Myrtle Pennington | Kanpa. Spinifex Arts Project

There’s so much excitement here at as we prepare for the new show by the Spinifex Arts Project.

These works are so powerful and vibrant. It’s easy to see why they’re enjoying so much international success right now. In the last year they’ve had successful shows in Germany and Singapore, and the British Museum have added two more of their works to it’s collection.

We are so proud to see the way the Spinifex Arts Project has developed – following their debut exhibition in Melbourne (in 2002), Japingka Gallery hosted their second exhibition (also in 2002), and we’ve held six more exhibitions of their work over the last 11 years.

If you’d like some more background on the exhibition and the life of the artists who produce this extraordinary work, you can have a look at two articles we’ve published about the Spinifex Arts Project. These are both based on interviews with Amanda Dent, Manager of the project.

In Everyday Spirituality: Paintings from The Spinifex Arts Project, Amanda reflects on where the artists draw their inspiration from and why she feels their work is attracting so much attention. In Working With The Spinifex Arts Project, Amanda describes some of the unique aspects of working with a remote desert community and an arts project such as the Spinifex Arts Project.

It is amazing to understand that these artists are producing all this quality art with the only supporting infrastructure being a shipping container for storing art materials.

For three months of the year the artists cannot work because there is no sheltered working space or studio to work in away from the heat and wind. What these artists manage to achieve in the remainder of the year says much about their passion and commitment.

I’m really hoping you will get to see this new Spinifex Arts Project exhibition when it opens here at Japingka on Fri 10 October (6:30pm start, free entry) and get to see first hand what all the excitement is about.

Exhibition Link:

A Salute To Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye


We recently interviewed Sarrita King about people who have influenced her and who’s work she likes to collect. Here’s what Sarrita had to say,

Kudditji (Kngwarreye) makes up the majority of my collection. I’ve been lucky enough to sit with him. Every time I talk about him, I have a smile on my face. Every time I look at his art in my home, I smile. I love that experience. I love him as a person and I’ve only had fleeting experiences. Just the richness of who he is.” Sarrita King, September 2014

So who is Kudditji (pronounced goo-beh-chee) Kngwarreye? He was born about 1928 and had a traditional bush upbringing at Alhalkere at Utopia Station.  This is about 270 kms north east of Alice Springs. Kudditji’s first language is Eastern Anmatyerre.  His sister is the most commercially successful Aboriginal artist, Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

Kudditji’s work tends to focus on two main areas – Emu Dreaming, for which he is cultural custodian, and Men’s Ceremonial Dreamings from Boundary Bore.

He is well known for constructing his paintings using strong colours. He reduces his subject down to quite simple forms and transfers the emotional effects of that using colour. He simplifies his ideas into colour. His palette is influenced by the seasons and the weather.

I met him in Alice Springs about 10 years ago.  His work is very powerful, very emotive. It tends to effect people.   Kudditji’s painting is unique among indigenous artists in way he reduces his ideas down to block-like shapes which are then combined with the use subtle use of light and colour.

I can easily understand why Kudditji Kngwarreye and his work have had such an impact on Sarrita even though their styles are ultimately very different. If you’d like to see more of his paintings visit our page Kudditji Kngwarreye . You can also read Sarrita King’s full interview at Sarrita King – Art, Passion and Story Telling.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lorna Fencer’s Yam Dreaming In Major Paris Exhibition

Lorna Fencer work in Paris   I’m very excited about a new Paris exhibition Poetry of the Yam. It’s featuring the colourful works of Lorna Fencer and the yam is the main story behind many of Lorna’s paintings. In this exhibition Lorna’s role as a custodian for a yam dreaming story within her Walrpiri culture is being set alongside some yam masks from New Guinea. While it might sound an unusual combination, the drawing together of these two art forms is quite stunning.

Lorna’s work in this exhibition is putting together a significant story from Australia, as the yam was so important for survival of Lorna’s people. What she’s painting is the dreaming stories of how the ancestors created the yam, how they drew it out of the earth, how there was, later, custodial battles between different groups of ancestors over different types of yam dreaming stories. It’s a great legendary, or mythological, history that belongs to Lorna Fencer’s people.

Similarly, the masks from New Guinea are spirit people related to the yam and the equivalent idea of a dreaming. In these works the actual yams have a kind of human or spirit face that is expressed in the mask.

Ian and I spent 8 years working very closely with Lorna Fencer. We visited her in her community. She came and visited us here in Fremantle and painted many paintings while we were doing workshops with her. She came with family members. We traveled all across Australia visiting exhibitions that we put on in conjunction with Lorna and galleries in Sydney and Melbourne and Darwin.

It was a great experience to be alongside Lorna when she saw all her paintings finally up on a gallery wall. They were very big impact paintings. Lorna would often sing or tell the story of those yam dreaming stories, addressing the paintings rather than addressing anyone else. Seeing Lorna have this conversation with her paintings gave me a little lead into the cultural world where her paintings came from.

Lorna passed away in 2006, and her paintings, we think, are amongst the most significant works coming from Walpiri artists in that huge area of the Tanami Desert in central Australia.

We have some wonderful works of Lorna’s here at Japingka, but it’s just great to have Lorna’s work celebrated on the international art stage. I’m so pleased that people in Paris will see her work during a major art festival which focuses on the work of indigenous people. For Lorna to be front and central as part of that event, I think, is really fitting and really exciting for us.

The curator of the Poetry of the Yam is Didier Zanette and you can read his interview about this exhibition and his passion for Pacific indigenous art. More of Lorna’s work can be seen here.

Link: Poetry of the Yam – An Interview with Didier Zanette