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Helen Nampijinpa Robertson / Water Dreaming

30cm x 30cm Acrylic on Canvas, Stretched Ready to Hang

SKU: 1551-14


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SKU: 1551-14 Category:

Artwork is accompanied by Warlukurlangu Artists (Yuendumu) Art Centre Certificate of Authenticity/Provenance

Helen Nampijinpa Robertson was born in 1944 in Mt Doreen, an extensive cattle breeding station about 55 km west of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory. Helen is the daughter of International artist Shorty Jangala Robertson (dcd). As the daughter of Shorty Jangala Robertson, she attended bush school, travelling around the country with her family in the traditional way – learning about the bush, her sites and the traditional ways of her country – before settling in Yuendumu. Yuendumu is a remote Aboriginal community located 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the Central Desert of Australia. Helen is married to Johnny Japaljarri Brown-Possum, a traditional Walpiri dancer who has travelled all over the world as well as a well-known artist who paints with Warlukurlangu Artists. They have four daughters and two sons and lots of grandchildren. Helen and her husband have travelled extensively but now move between Alice Springs and Yuendumu, spending more and more time at Yuendumu to be with family and friends.

Helen has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre in Yuendumu, since 2008. She likes painting because it is about her dreaming, in particular her Ngapa Jukurrpa (Water Dreaming) and Ngurlu Jukurrpa (Seed Dreaming). These dreamings have been passed down to her from her father’s side and his parents before him for millennia. All these stories relate directly to her traditional country, the features of the landscape, the food and animals found in those places. Helen is happy to be living in Yuendumu where is she is close to family and where she is able to go hunting for bush tucker and for goanna. She also has more time to paint her stories.

The site depicted in this painting is Puyurru, west of Yuendumu. In the usually dry creek beds are ‘mulju’ (soakages), or naturally occurring wells. The ‘kirda’ (owners) for this site are Nangala/Nampijinpa women and Jangala/Jampijinpa men. Two Jangala men, rainmakers, sang the rain, unleashing a giant storm. The storm travelled across the country from the east to the west, initially travelling with a ‘pamapardu Jukurrpa’ (termite Dreaming) from Warntungurru to Warlura, a waterhole 8 miles east of Yuendumu. At Warlura, a gecko called Yumariyumari blew the storm on to Lapurrukurra and Wilpiri. Bolts of lightning shot out at Wirnpa (also called Mardinymardinypa) and at Kanaralji. At this point the Dreaming track also includes the ‘kurdukurdu mangkurdu Jukurrpa’ (children of the clouds Dreaming). The water Dreaming built hills at Ngamangama using baby clouds and also stuck long pointy clouds into the ground at Jukajuka, where they can still be seen today as rock formations.

The termite Dreaming eventually continued west to Nyirrpi, a community approximately 160 km west of Yuendumu. The water Dreaming then travelled from the south over Mikanji, a watercourse with soakages northwest of Yuendumu. At Mikanji, the storm was picked up by a ‘kirrkarlanji’ (brown falcon [Falco berigora]) and taken farther north. At Puyurru, the falcon dug up a giant ‘warnayarra’ (rainbow serpent). The serpent carried water with it to create another large lake, Jillyiumpa, close to an outstation in this country. The ‘kirda’ (owners) of this story are Jangala men and Nangala women. After stopping at Puyurru, the water Dreaming travelled on through other locations including Yalyarilalku, Mikilyparnta, Katalpi, Lungkardajarra, Jirawarnpa, Kamira, Yurrunjuku, and Jikaya before moving on into Gurindji country to the north.

In contemporary Warlpiri paintings, traditional iconography is used to represent the ‘Jukurrpa’ (Dreaming), associated sites, and other elements. In many paintings of this Dreaming, short dashes are often used to represent ‘mangkurdu’ (cumulus & stratocumulus clouds), and longer, flowing lines represent ‘ngawarra’ (flood waters). Small circles are used to depict ‘mulju’ (soakages) and river beds.

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