Salt on Mina Mina, 2006
Set against a black background Dorothy has created a shifting sea of harmonious white dots that gather and disperse across the canvas. Like sandhills in constant flux around and through the artist’s country, so too does this painting move backwards and forwards, the rippling effect produced so like that of the wind’s tracks in the sand. In this work, the collapsing lines of dots, the intricate play of collision and expansion space and narrowness, all attract our visual senses.
Topographically, the sacred site of Mina Mina, a major women’s ceremonial site, is made up of two enormous soakage areas that, rarely filled with water, existing as clay-pans. As water soaks into the ground, small areas of earth dry out and lift at the edges, becoming delineated by salt. Dorothy has captured the essence of this process in the detailing of her dots, depicting the crustations of salt stretching infinitely across country, and etched with the tracks of the women, crossing and merging; telling their stories. It is here across the soakage areas and endless sandhills, that Dorothy and her aunts (Napanangkas) perform rituals of dance and song as part of their passing on of Jukurrpa.
This country is located near Lake Mackay in the Tanami Desert, north of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory. During the Jukurrpa Ancestral women of the Napangardi and Napanangka sub-section groups (aunt / niece relationship, in which knowledge is passed from one to the other) gathered to collect ceremonial digging sticks (karlangu) that had emerged from the ground. They then proceeded east, performing rituals of song and dance, to the place known as Jankinyi. A large belt of Desert Oaks trees (Allocasuarina decaisneana) now stand where these digging sticks once were.
One of the leading artists of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement, Napangardi’s work is highly sought after by both collectors and curators worldwide. Her paintings and prints have been widely exhibited and are in all national collections within Australia and in major collections worldwide including most recently the MET, New York. Napangardi had the honour of being the 2nd indigenous artist to be given a solo survey exhibition at the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Sydney that traced 11 years of her painting career in 1991.