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Mitjili Napurrula

Born: ca 1945

Area: Ikuntji, Haasts Bluff, Norther Territory

Language Group: Pintupi

Mitjili is the daughter of Tupa Tjakamarra (now deceased) and Tjunkiya Napaltjarri  and a half sister to famous aboriginal artist Turkey Tjupurrula Tolson. She married Long Tom Tjapanangka, also a very well known artist, at Papunya in the 1960's, and they later lived at Haasts Bluff and Mt Liebeg.

Mitjili began painting at the Ikuntji Women's Centre in 1992 and at first followed the style of painting of the Papunya Tula artists. However later she has developed a very distinctive painting style of her own. Designs that she paints are based on her father's country called Uwalki, an area lies in the Gibson Desert near the Kintore Ranges, west of Haasts Bluff. This country is characterised by red sandhills, bushes and trees including the beautiful desert oaks. The Dreaming stories (Tjukurrpa) behind the paintings relate to the making of spears - an important aspect of "men's business". The patterns represent the women's side of this Tjukurrpa, showing the trees (Watiya Tjuta) that provide the wood for spear shafts and other objects.

Mitjili was taught some of her key imagery by her mother drawing patterns in the sand. She says: "My mother taught me my father's Tjukurrpa; that's what I'm painting on the canvas". Mitjili's canvases are patterned with strong, vibrant colours, and contain an incredible energy. This style has gained her a strong following within Australia and internationally.


  • 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
    • Exhibitions:

      • 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998 Australian Heritage Art Award, Canberra
      • 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999 Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
      • 1994 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
      • 1994 Hotel Shangri-la and Australian High Commision, Singapore
      • 1994, 1998 Adelaide Fringe Festival
      • 1994 Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney
      • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, Darwin
      • 1995 Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
      • 1995, 1997, 1999 Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
      • 1996 Gallerie Australis, Adelaide
      • 1996 "The Meeting Place" - touring exhibition, Australia
      • 1996, 1998, 2000 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
      • 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002 Aboriginal Art Galerie Bahr, Speyer, Germany
      • 1997 Goteborgs Konstforening, Goteborg, Sweden
      • 1997 Arnhem Land, The Netherlands
      • 1997 Alliance Francaise, Canberra
      • 1998 Art Gallery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
      • 1998 Spazio Pitti Arte Florence, Italy
      • 1998 Framed Gallery, Darwin
      • 1998 Gallerie Dusseldorf, Perth
      • 1998 Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
      • 1998 Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne
      • 1998 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
      • 1999 Flinders Art Museum Flinders University, Adelaide
      • 1999 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, U.S.A.
      • 2000 Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
      • 2001 Galerie Knud Grothe, Charlottenlund, Denmark
        • Awards:

          • 1997, finalist 14th Telstra NATSIAA
          • 1999 Alice Prize (Central Australian Art Award), Alice Springs