Malcolm Jagamarra


Born:           1954

People:        Lander River

Language:     Warlpiri

Area:              Lander River




Malcolm Jagamarra was born in the Australian outback in 1954. He is the son of Minnie Napanangka, a Warlpiri woman and Gerry Maloney an Irish Bushman. As a child he travelled the land on walk about with his mother and families. They lived the traditional way, which is more than 40,000 years old.

At the time as part of the 'Aboriginal Assimilation Program', all part Aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in white environments. Because of this Jagamarra's mother would hide him in the bush whenever they visited a white homestead.

At the age of six, Jagamarra was discovered by the authorities and taken to Adelaide where he spent the next eighteen years. He matriculated from Adelaide Boys High School in 1972 and starred in League Football for North Adelaide until 1975.

In 1978 he returned to Alice Springs and was reunited with his family for the first time since 1960. Jagamarra underwent the initiation ceremonies into manhood that he missed as a boy, in 1983. It was then that he learned the sacred songs and dances of his tribe, the Lander River Warlpiri.

Jagamarra's art evolves from his tribe's ceremonies. Aboriginal paintings were originally daubed on the ground and on bodies of the people and were not preserved. Since 1971 they have been transferred onto canvas. "It has given everyone a chance to learn about Aboriginal Dreaming," says Jagamarra. "Our art reflects not just the land but its mythology, song and dance." The symbols are called iconography and they are the oldest form of writing in the world.

Attracting extensive media coverage and biographical interest with his success, Malcolm has achieved star status as an Aboriginal artist appearing on numerous television programs and in a number of published books and articles. Some examples of these include appearances on SBS Television, the 7:30 Report ABC, Wonder World Channel 9, Cable Network Television, Qantas Inflight Video Magazine, and NTD Television. The following publications have featured stories on Malcolm: The Bulletin (Newsweek), Antiques and Art Magazine, Telegraph Mirror, The Age Newspaper, Inside Melbourne Australia, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Koori Mail, in Australia and Window Magazine in Hong Kong.

Book biographies: 200 Unsung Heroes and Heroines of Australia, Modern Art - Ancient Icon, A Myriad of Dreaming - 20th Century Aboriginal Art, Aboriginal Artists of the Western Desert (Vivien Johnson).

Malcolm has had many commissions and commercial consignments. He has designed logos for Kellogg's, Hardy Wines, Duty Free Shoppers, and Telecom in Australia and Sandscapes in the U.S.A Macquarie University in Sydney commissioned him to paint a mural, as a decorative feature of the campus.

Jagamarra was the first Aboriginal Artist to use oils on his paintings and he is the leader in his style. Considered one of the most talented and dynamic Aboriginal Artists working in Australia, he has been instrumental in forging new directions for traditional art in a contemporary market.

Malcolm’s works have been exhibited world wide in reputable private and public galleries. The artist himself has also toured extensively across the globe, promoting his people, and their culture. Exhibitions: Art Gallery of New South Wales (where he served as artist in residence, lecturing and painting to an audience for six weeks), Parker Gallery Sydney, Holdsworth Gallery Sydney, Jinta Desert Art Gallery Sydney, Barry Stern Gallery Sydney, Argyle Gallery Sydney, Gallery Savah Sydney, Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia Melbourne, Emerald Hill Gallery Melbourne, Tribal Arts Gallery Melbourne, Aboriginal Gallery of Dreamings Melbourne, Queensland Art Gallery Brisbane, Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery Alice Springs. Additionally, Reichs Museum The Netherlands, Rosequist Gallery Touscan , Throckmorton Gallery Santa Fe, Bahti Indian Art Gallery Touscan, Barbara Gilman Gallery of Dreaming Miami, Malagra’s Gallery San Antonio, Bird in the Hand and Mendelson Galleries Pittsburgh U.S.A. Also exhibiting in Stuttgart Gallery Stuttgart, Australian Aboriginal Art Gallery Vineyard Germany, Rebecca Hossack Gallery London, Wagner Art Gallery Hong Kong. In 1998 his works were included in the “Out of Australia” exhibition at Lui Hai-Su National Art Museum, Shanghai China. In 1999 he featured in the Indigenous Art of the Dreamtime exhibition, United Nations Building New York, New York, USA. Being one of the most popular and well renowned artists of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement, Jagamarra’s paintings feature in many collections including: The Kelton Foundation Santa Monica U.S.A., Professor Fische Germany, Berkeley Editions Australia, Charles Sturt University; Macquarie University; Jinta Desert Art Sydney, Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia Melbourne and Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery Alice Springs.