Mitjili  Naparrula  

Born:             c.1945

People:           Pintupi

Language:      Pintupi

Area:              Kintore




Recognized as one of the most famous Pintupi women painters and coming from a patrilineal line of painters Mitjili commenced painting in 1993. Her mother, Tjunkayi Napaltjarri, was involved in the ‘Minyma Tjukurrpa Project’ (a collection of women painters from Kintore and the Ikuntji Womens centre in 1994) and consequently became one of the principal women painters at Kintore. Her brother is perhaps the most acclaimed painter in her line – the Great Turkey Tolson who is one of the founding members and principal painters for Papunya Tula. Her sister, Wintjiya Napaltjarri is one of the three wives of Tupa, Turkey Tolson’s father, and her husband Long Tom Tjapanangka is also a leading painter at Haasts Bluff who recently won the prestigious 1999 Northern Territory Telstra Art Award and has many works held in public collections nationally.

Turkey Tolson paints the Tjukurrpa or Dreaming associated with the assembly of spears. Representing the female side of this dreaming, Mitjili concentrates on the trees that provide the wood. Taught her fathers dreaming by her mother, Mitjili has a close association with the spear dreaming as her fathers country Ulwalki is where the trees that provide the wood for spear making are found. Her symbolic representations are strongly patterned works with distinctive contrasts in the use of colour. Formative symbols take shape against a dotted white background – creating depth and movement – a playful combination on the eye.

Other Dreamings Mitjili has inherited include Wangunu or Portulaca (small black seeds ground and used to make damper). And 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 and colour is distinctively appealing and indicative of her playful manner. Mitjili’s standing as an Australian artist has been recognised through her inclusion in major collections including: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of Northern Territory, Darwin; Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide; Artbank, and Edith Cowan University Art Collection, Perth.

Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally including; 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998 Australian Heritage Art Award, Canberra; 1992-94 ‘Ikuntji: Paintings from Haasts Bluff 1992-94’, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; 1994 Hotel Shangri-la and Australian High Commission, Singapore; 1994 ‘Ikuntji Artists from Haasts Bluff’, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney; 1994, Yiribana Gallery opening exhibition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; 1994 ‘Paintings from Haasts Bluff’ Hogarth Galleries Sydney; 1996 ‘The Meeting Place’ - touring exhibition of Australia; In 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002 Aboriginal Art Gallery Bahr, Speyer, Germany; 1997 Goteborgs Konstforening, Goteborg, Sweden; 1997 ‘Arnhem’ The Netherlands; 1997 Alliance Francaise, Canberra; 1998 Art Gallery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; 1998 at Spazio Pitti Arte Florence, Italy; 1998 Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne; 1999 ‘Spirit Country: Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art‘, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; 1999 ‘Another Country’, Art Gallery of New South Wales; 2000 ‘Title Deeds: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works from the Collection’, Art Gallery of New South Wales; 2000 , ‘Beyond the Pale’, Art Gallery of South Australia; 2001 Galerie Knud Grothe, Charlottenlund, Denmark.

Mitjili has received a number of awards of excellence including the Australian Heritage Art Award, Canberra 1993, Northern Territory Art Award, Alice Springs 1994, and most recently the 1999 Alice Springs Art Award.

Collections include: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Artbank; Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs; Edith Cowan University Art Collection, Perth; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.