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Mitjili Naparrula / Watiya Tjuta (6B)

150cm x 90cm Acrylic on Canvas

SKU: 17338


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1946 – 2019

Mitjili comes from a large family of painters. She was born at Haasts Bluff, 200kms west of Alice Springs, NT in 1946, and is the daughter of the late Tupa Tjakamarra and Tjunkiya Napaltjarri. Her husband is Long Tom Tjapanangka, a well-known international artist and her brother is acclaimed artist Turkey Tolsen Tjupurrula. 

Both Mitjili and Turkey are custodians of the Kulata (spear) Tjukurrpa. Mitjili was taught her father’s Tjukurrpa (Dreaming) by her mother, who drew images of Uwalki in the sand (the trees that traditionally provide wood for spears). She commenced painting in 1992 at the Ikuntji Women’s Centre.

This country Mitjili painted was characterised by red sandhills, bushes and trees including the beautiful desert oaks. Mitjili was taught some of her key imagery by her mother drawing patterns in the sand. She says: “My mother taught me my father’s Tjukurrpa; that’s what I’m painting on the canvas”. Mitjili’s canvases are patterned with strong, vibrant colours, and contain an incredible energy. This style has gained her a strong following within Australia and internationally.
Mitjili passed away peacefully in early 2019.
• Alice Springs Art Prize
Selected Collections 
• Alice Springs Art Foundations, Araluen Centre for the Arts, Alice Springs 
• Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 
• Artbank, Sydney 
• Campbelltown Regional Gallery, Campbelltown 
• Edith Cowan University Art Collection, Perth 
• Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide 
• Gantner Myer Collection, de Young Museum, San Francisco 
• Mornington Peninsula Art Gallery, Mornington 
• Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin 
• National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 
• National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 
• Private and Corporate Collections Worldwide 

The painting depicts significant elements referring to Uwalki country – Mitjili’s father’s (the renowned Turkey Tolson) homeland around Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff) west of Alice Springs in Central Australia. The wood from the watiya tjuta (trees) were used to hand carve spears, artefacts and ceremonial objects associated with mens business. Here, Mitjili has painted the leaves of this important tree.

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