This painting depicts a major women’s ceremonial site known as Mina Mina, located near Lake Mackay in the Tanami Desert, north of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory.
The central dark element represents hairstring that is worn as belts and tassels by Warlpiri women. This hairstring is closely associated with the Karnakurlangu Jurkurrpa that is acted out at the Mina Mina ceremonial site.
Hairstring is mainly spun directly after the death of a family member. Women cut their hair, ritually cleanse it and spin it into yarn.
Judy’s “Hair String Belt Dreaming” paintings were originally painted in black on a white ground with red. The canvas depicts the women in ceremony who are wearing the hair-string belts created for the occasion. Hair string belts are sacred subject matter for women across much of the Australian continent, and especially in Central Australia. It was not long before Judy introduced bright colour into her works, in a style that is uniquely hers.
Judy Watson is the cousin of Dorothy (the daughter of Dorothy father’s brother). When Judy Watson father died, Paddy (Dorothy’s father) took Judy in as his child. He said he felt towards her the same as his other children).
Born at Yarungkanji (Mt. Doreen Station), Judy Watson with her family would made many trips on foot to her country living for long periods at her ancestral country Mina Mina and Yingipurlangu (on the border of the Tanami and Gibson Deserts). Here they lived the nomadic life, the place was rich in bush tucker such as yakajirri (bush tomatoes), wanakiji (bush plums), and wardapi (sand goanna).
Taught painting by her elder sister, Maggie Napangardi Watson, Judy painted alongside her at Warlukurlangu Artists for a number of years. Her sister was instrumental in guiding Judy into develop her own unique style, applying it to her own unique totemic subject matter, of which “Mina Mina” was a major focus. The country of Mina Mina holds great significance to the Napangardi and Napananka women, who are the custodians of the Jukurrpa that created the area.
Region: Yuendumu, NT
Born at Yarungkanji, Mt. Doreen Station (west of Yuendumu), Judy Napangardi Watson is a senior Warlpiri female painter. A woman of incredible energy that is transmitted to her work through her dynamic use of colour, and energetic “dragged dotting” style. She is at the forefront of a move towards more abstract rendering of Jukurrpa by Warlpiri artists, however her work retains strong kurruwarri, the details which tell of the sacredness of place and song in her culture.