Dorothy Napangardi


All of our dancing belongs there…
When I paint I think of the old days, as a happy little girl knowing my grand-father’s Dreaming.

With a very individual painting style that Napangardi developed by elaborating on the traditional designs of the kurawarri (iconography associated with individual dreaming stories), Napangardi’s paintings focus on her ancestral country, Mina Mina, which is a highly significant sacred site particularly for women, as it is the point of origin for Karntakurlangu Jukurrpa (Women’s Dreaming) for not only the Warlpiri but also for the Kukutja whose traditional lands are to the west.

It was at Mina Mina that during Jukurrpa (the creation era) digging sticks emerged from the ground which the women took up as they commenced their journey along the dreaming route travelling east. Today these digging sticks are represented by the kurrkara (desert oaks) at the site. Mina Mina consists of two large claypans with several mulju (water soakages).

Her kinship responsibility is to her subsection group of Napanangka/Napangardi. Each custodian must know the songs, dances, rituals and body paint designs to ensure that this knowledge is passed on to their nieces as is the obligation of traditional law. Artists often refer to this as “keeping the Dreaming strong”.

In turn Napangardi’s five daughters learn by watching and listening to their mother, aunties and grandparents singing the song cycles that belong to the country she paints.

Karntakurlangu literally translates from Warlpiri language into ‘Belonging to Women’. The site depicted is Mina Mina, a sacred women’s site which is located on the far west border of the Northern Territory, near the Western Australian border, close to the great salt lake of Lake MacKay. It comprises of a large claypan that fills with water after rain surrounded by large desert oak trees. 

During the Dreaming women of the Napangardi (Dorothy’s ‘skin’ name) and Napanangka (aunties for the Napangardi kinship) sang and danced this country into existence. This is how traditional knowledge is passed on – from auntie (father’s sisters) to niece.
Portrait of Dorothy Napangardi on Country Mina Mina © Gallery Gondwana

Dorothy on her Country - Mina Mina

Sandhills of Mina Mina and Digging Stick Possessing Dreaming are key subject matters for Dorothy Napangardi’s paintings. Digging sticks are women’s traditional and ceremonial tools used for such tasks as digging up yams and goannas, making shelter, learning about ‘women’s business’ and for ‘sorry business’ (funerals). According to this Dreaming ancestral women made the tracks that formed the topography of the desert region, while dancing eastward with their digging sticks.

During their journey they were confronted by the Warlpiri Snake (Walyankarna), who himself was travelling north to the Granites. To scare him away they danced enthusiastically, billowing up dust, which formed the sandhills of Napangardi’s country. Represented in profile and as an elaborate grid pattern in aerial view, Napandgardi paints her country’s topography with intricate dotted lines that weave in and out to create a strong sense of movement and symbol of her ancestors’ journey and adventures.

All Text & Images © Gallery Gondwana

Back to Mina Mina

Back to Mina Mina An epic tale of adventure, discovery and loss

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Karntakurlangu Jukurrpa (Belonging to Women)

Karntakurlangu is one of the most extensive and significant women’s Jukurrpa (Dreaming) belonging to the Warlpiri people of Central Australia. Through initiation into the Jukurrpa knowledge is…

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18 September - 27 October 2020

The Art and Life of Dorothy Napangardi - 2020 Retrospective Exhibition

Japingka Aboriginal Art, Fremantle/Perth, Western Australia had a successful 2020 retrospective exhibition for Dorothy Napangardi (1952- 2013) that showed the artist’s journey towards the refined style of the later Mina Mina paintings that established her career as an outstanding artist.

14 June 2020 - 31 January 2021

A Window on the Macrocosmos

This fabulous and successful show has been extend until January, 2021 - DE 11 LIJNEN Groenedijkstraat 1, Oudenburg, Belgium has a beautifully curated show of masterpieces by Dorothy Napangardi, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Kathleen & Gloria Petyarre

01 August - 31 December 2018

The Limited Edition Works of Dorothy Napangardi

In addition to her internationally acclaimed career in paintings, Dorothy also extended her artistic career into the field of etching and print making… which saw her create a stunning series of limited edition prints for print makers including Crown Point Press (Dena Schuckit), Northern Editions…

14 June - 31 December 2018

Honouring Dorothy Napangardi

All of our dancing belongs there… when I paint I think of the old days, as a happy little girl knowing my grand-father’s Dreaming…

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Gallery Gondwana
(Est. 1990)

(by appointment only) ALICE SPRINGS NT 0870 AUSTRALIA
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