Alice Springs, NT
Private Collection, NSW
Cooee Art, NSW
Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa was born in Pitjantjatjara country, near the site of today’s Docker River community. She spent much of her childhood at Pangkupirri, a set of sheltered rockholes deep in the range-folds of the Gibson Desert, and saw no white men until she was in her teens. By the time she walked in from the bush to the ration depot at Haasts Bluff and encountered mission life, she had become a healer and was soon recognised as a person of great ritual authority. She moved to Kintore, the new western settlement of the Pintupi, closer to her traditional lands. In the 1980s she moved on to Tjukurla, across the West Australian border.
Nyurapayia was a close associate of the key painters who shaped the women’s painting movement in the early to mid-1990s. She painted only relatively minor, mid-grade, formulaic works for Papunya Tula, before Chris Simon took her on and rebuilt his Yanda Art business around her. Living comfortably under Simons’ wing, she hit her creative peak painting large, complex canvases depicting her ancestral rockholes in dark, curved lines on black or white shimmering grounds.
Her depictions of the sand-dune country and surrounding rocky outcrops bear a relationship to the designs used for body painting during the inma ceremonial dance. At the time of her death in February 2013, Nyurapayia had reached the pinnacle of desert law and sacred knowledge and was revered by women throughout the Western Desert.Share