Mitjili Napurrula is a Pintupi woman born at Haasts Bluff. Her family is one of great importance in the Aboriginal community of Papunya. Her mother is Tjunkayi Napaltjarri, a well known artist who was involved in the Minyma Tjukurrpa Project and consequently became one of the principal woman painters at Kintore. Her brother is the late chairman of Papunya Tula Artists, Turkey Tolson.
In 1993 Mitjili started painting for Ikuntji Women’s Centre. She has since developed her own bold style, a simplified design in striking colours, and has become known for the strength of patterning in the formal arrangements of her work.
Mitjili paints the female side to her father’s Dreaming, which is the story of the spear straightening ceremony as taught to her by her mother. Mitjili also paints the topography of her father’s country Uwalki, with its Watiya which are the trees that traditionally provide wood for spears.
The most prominent theme in Mitjili’s painting concerns the Watiya Tjuta (Acacia trees) which relate to men’s business and her recurring tree motif is based on patterns her mother used to draw in the sand.
Other Dreamings Mitjili has inherited include Wangunu or Portulaca (small black seeds ground and used to make damper), as well as Arkatjirri, a fruit similar to a sultana that is found in the bush. A large body of her work includes vibrant reds, yellows and browns, which serve to communicate the essence of flowers, many of her works being primarily concerned with their representation. Her superb sense for spacing, patterning and colour is distinctively appealing and indicative of her playful manner.
Mitjili strong and distinctive personal style has gained her acclaim within Australia and internationally. Her work is held in major public and private collections in Australia and overseas.
Featured Galleries / Collections
- National Gallery of Australia (Canberra)
- National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne)
- Flinders University Art Museum (Adelaide)
- Art Gallery of NSW (Sydney)
- Artbank Sydney
- Araluen Arts Centre (Alice Springs)
- Edith Cowan University Art Collection (Perth)
- Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (Darwin)