Born at Yalantijirri near Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route, Eubena Nampitjin moved to the Catholic mission that had been established 5 years earlier near the northern reaches of Lake Gregory in 1948. In 1962 the mission moved to Wirrimanu (Balgo Hills) where there was a more permanent water supply and thereafter became a melting pot of tribal peoples drawn from the cusp of the Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts. The Wangkajunga, Walmajarri, Kukata, Walpiri, Ngarti and Djaru people congregated there as life became more and more difficult on their traditional land.
While the people of Balgo Hills heard of the emergence of the Papunya art movement from Pintupi, who visited the mission to take part in ceremony in 1971, their own art movement did not begin until the mid 1980’s. The confluence of up to 10 different Aboriginal traditions in this one community resulted in a degree of flexibility in the practice of law, art and ritual. Since many of the older generation left the desert as mature adults the majority of their paintings relate strongly to their land and are expressed from a personal or experiential perspective. Eubena did not begin painting until the second art coordinator, Michael Rae, extended the opportunity to paint beyond the Adult Education Centre to the camps that had established themselves around the fringes of the mission. Canvases were delivered and collected on a weekly rotation and it was common for husbands and wives to complete canvases together. This was certainly the case with Eubena Nampitjin who developed her aesthetic alongside her second husband, Wimmitji Tjapangarti. They began collaborating in 1988 and their art flourished under Rae’s guidance. Though Wimmitji and Eubena initially worked in earthy brown and red toning with areas of white dotting and lines, by 1989 they began experimenting with soft floral patterns transforming the complex dotting and compositions that characterise their work in to delicately beautiful and opulent works. Their early works portrayed Dreaming sites, country, and ancestral travels in the most intimate cartographic detail and are, to this day, the very finest paintings that have ever emanated from the community. Whether these paintings were attributed to Wimmitji or Eubena was always simply a matter of chance. Canvases were delivered and names were transcribed on to the back prior to handing them to the artists. They were never attributed to both husband and wife. As the art centre flourished and demand for their paintings grew Wimmitji began painting less and Eubena increasingly painted on her own. After the death of her daughter Ema Gimme Nungerayai in 1993, Eubena returned to Well 33 and did not paint again until encouraged to return to Balgo Hills two years later. From that time on she painted alone with larger, freer dots and a more gestural style executed with a palate of red, yellow and pink. In time these late career works became more akin to finger painting with fluid brushstrokes and only the occasional intimate section actually dotted with a stick.
Also Known As: Yupinya
Active: 1986 -
Biographical notes: Eubena Nampitjin was married to Wimmitji Tjapangarti. Wimmitji and Eubena assisted the anthropologists Ronald and Catherine Brendt who were conducting fieldwork at Balgo during the 1950s.
Eubena Nampitjin is the mother of Jane Gimme.
Eubena Nampitjin is the grandmother of Lydia Mutji.
Eubena is an esteemed law women in the community, being consulted and deferred to on all questions of law. Mukaka, Eubena's mother, taught her Maparn (healer/witchdoctor) skills before she passed away, when Eubena was just a young girl.
Community: Balgo Hills
Art centre: Warlayirti Artists
Outstation: Canning Stock Route
Language: Wangkajungka, Kukatja, Purtitjarra, Mantjilytjarra.
Social Affiliation: Nampitjin subsection
Medium: Chromacryl, students acrylic on cotton duck; synthetic polymer paint on linen; printmaking (etching)
Subjects: Tjumu (soak water), Tjukarra (rock holes), Watikujarra (two men dreaming), Malu (kangaroo dreaming), Kantilli (bush tomato).
Three dancing women, two young men and the moon, goanna, mouse, moon and dingoes, Tingari formed the land, kangaroo, Karnaputta, Wati Kutjarra.
Awards: 1998 - Winner Open Painting Award, 15th Telstra Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
Aboriginal Women's Exhibition, exhib. cat., Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1991.
Australian Art Collector, Issue 15, Jan-March 2001, Australia's 50 Most Collectable Artists (p.57).
Brody, A., Krempel, U., Bahr, E., (eds.), Stories, Eine Reise zu den grossen Dingen, exhib. cat., Landeshauptstadt Hannover Der Oberstadtdirektor Sprengel Museum Hannover and Autoren, 1995.
Collector's Dossier: Yupinya Nampitjin (p.100), Gadfly Media Publications, Sydney.
Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection, exhib. cat., Heytesbury Holdings Ltd., Perth, 1990.
Eubena Nampitjin: Art and Life, Warlayirti Artists, 2005.
Glowczewski, B., Yapa, Peintres Aborigenes de Balgo et Lajamanu, Lebon Gallery, Paris, 1991.
Heathcote, Christopher, ‘The rise of Aboriginal art reflects its power and depth of imagery’, The Age, 1 April 1992
Johnson, V., The Dictionary of Western Desert Artists, Craftsman House, East Roseville, New South Wales, 1994. (C)
McCulloch, S. The World from a Feminine Perspective, The Australian, 25 March 2002.
Nicholls, Christine, 'The Shock of the Old: The Art of Eubena Nampitjin', Australian Art Collector, Issue 14, December 2000 - March 2001, pp. 100-103.
Ryan, J., Mythscapes Aboriginal Art of the Desert from the National Gallery of Victoria, exhib. cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1989. (C)
Ryan, J., Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, exhib, cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1993.
Winter, Joan., Native Title Business, Contemporary Indigenous Art (Catalogue), Keeira Press, Qld, 2002.
Cowan, J., Wirrimanu: Aboriginal art from the Balgo Hills, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1994.
Sylvia Kleinert and Margo Neale, Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, Melbourne, Oxford University Press 2001, ISBN: 0195506499.
- 2010 - Circles in the Sand : Aboriginal Art from Central Australia in the Kluge-Ruhe Collection featuring works by: Anatjarri No. III Tjakamarra, Bai Bai Napangati, Bessie Nakamarra Sims, Brandy Tjungurrayai, Dolly Nampijinpa Daniels, Eubena Nampitjin, Jack Jakamarra Ross -- Paddy Japaljarri Stewart, Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, Michael Jagamara Nelson, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Millie Skeen Nampitjin, Muntja Nungurrayai, Nancy Naninurra Napanangka, Paddy Jupurrula Nelson, Patrick Olodoodi Tjungurrayai, Rosie Nanyuma Napurrula, Sandy Gordon Tjupurrula, Sarah Napanangka, Shorty Jangala Robertson, Ted Egan Jangala, Timmy Payungka Tjapangati, Tjumpo Tjapanangka, Tommy Skeen Tjakamarra, Walangkura Napanangka, WARLUKURLANGU ARTISTS (Karrku Jupurra), William Sandy, Wintjiya Napaltjarri at the Embassy of Australia, Washington DC, USA.
- 2009 - En_trance - Experience and Sensation in Nomadic Art, including the following artists: Alice Michaels Nampijinpa, Alma Nungarrayi Granites, Anmanari Napanangka, Bessie Nakamarra Simms, Emily Kngwarreye, Eubena Nampitjin, Eunice Napanangka Jack, Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty, Jeannie Napangardi Lewis, Jimmy Baker, Jimmy Nerrimah, Judy Napangardi Watson, Liddy Napanangka Walker, Lola Nampijnpa Brown, Mary Anne Nampijinpa Michaels, Mary Napangardi Brown, Minnie Pwerle, Ormay Nangala Gallagher, Paddy Lewis Japananagka, Paddy Simms Japaltjarri, Peggy Nampijinpa Brown, Rosie Nangala Fleming, Shorty Jangala Robertson, Walangkura Napanangka, at Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney.
- 2008 - New works from Yuendumu and Balgo, featuring the following artists: Elizabeth Nyumi, Eubena Nampitjin, Judy Napangardi Watson, Kudditji Kngwarreye, Mary Anne Nampijinpa Michaels, Raymond Maxwell Tjampitjinpa, Sarah Daniels, Sarah Morton Kngwarrey, Shorty Jangala Robertson, Theresa Nowee, Winifred Nanala, at Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney.
- 2008 - Paintings from remote communities: Indigenous Australian art from the Laverty collection, Newcastle Regional Gallery, Newcastle, NSW.
- 2008 - Land, Sea and the Universe, Alcaston Gallery @ the 2008 Melbourne Art Fair, Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne.
- 2008 - Paint, Raft Space, Darwin, NT.
- 2007 - BALGO 07, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; Down the Track: Stories from the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, Holmes a Court Gallery, Perth; One Sun, One Moon: Aboriginal Art in Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
- 2006 - Warlayirti Suite, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne; Balgo, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; All about art, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2005 - Warlayirti Artists, Balgo - Glass from the Sand Country, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne; Yilpinji, Love, Magic and Ceremony, Galerie DAD, Mantes-la-Jolie, France; Balgo 2005, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; 22nd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin; Desert Inks, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2003 - Christmas Gift Exhibition, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne; 20th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
- 2002 - 2005 - Native Title Business - Contemporary Indigenous Art, a national travelling exhibition.
- 2002 - An Artists Survey, Balgo Hills, at Hogarth Galleries, Paddington.
- 1995 - Stories, Eine Reise zu den grossen Dingen, touring, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Museum fur Volkerkunde Leipzig, Haus der Kulteren der Welt Berlin, Ludwig-Forum fur Internationale Kunst Aachen.
- 1994 - Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.
- 1993 - Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Salon du Sud-Est, Palais des Expositions, Lyon, France.
- 1992 - Eubena and Wimmitji, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; Flash Art, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; The View from Balgo Hills, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne;
- 1991 - Aboriginal Women's Exhibition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; 1991, Paintings by Senior Women from the Western Desert, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria.
- 1990 - Paintings from Balgo, WA , Hogarth Gallery, Sydney; Contemporary Aboriginal Art 1990 from Australia. Tagari Lia: My Family Festival, Third Eye Centre, Scotland; Eubena Nampitjin and Wimmitji Tjapangarti, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; The Singing Earth, Chapman Gallery, Canberra; Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection, Harvard University, University of Minnesota, Lake Oswego Center for the Arts, United States of America.
- 1989 - Warlayirti Artists-Continuing Links with the Land, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art; Mythscapes, Aboriginal Art of the Desert, National Gallery of Victoria.
- 1986 - Art from the Great Sandy Desert, Art Gallery of WA, Perth.
- 2010 - Eubena Nampitjin from Kinyu: Part 2, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2009 - Eubena Nampitjin from Kinyu, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2008 - Nyanyami Kailyu-Parma-Tali Tjurrtijanu Tjkurpa: Kiny, Water, Hills and Sandhills, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2007 - Eubena Nampitjin, Queen of the Desert, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2006 - Ngurrangku Tjukurrpa Wakaninpa (Painting Country and Dreamtime), Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2005 - Eubena Nampitjin, Marrka Kurrunpa Palya, Alcaston Gallery (in Sydney at Depot Gallery), Sydney;
- 2004 - Eubena Nampitjin, 2004, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2002 - Eubena Nampitjin, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2000 - Lena Nyadbi and Eubena Nampitjin, Tineriba Gallery, Adelaide Festival of the Arts; Kinyarri:My Country, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- 1998 - Kinyu - My country near Canning Stock Route, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- Amsterdam Harland Collection.
- Artbank, Sydney.
- Gantner Myer Collection.
- Kaye Archer Collection.
- Kluge Ruhe Collection, USA.
- Levi-Kaplan Collection, USA.
- National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
- National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
- The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.
- The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, U.S.A.
- Thomas Vroom Collection, The Netherlands.
- Western Mining Corporation Collection.