Wentja Napaltjarri

Wentja Napaltjarri

  • Biography

    Wentja Napaltjarri was born C.1943 possibly at Malparinga west of Kintore. in her father's country, located in the Gibson Desert. Her father Shorty Lungkata Tjungarrayi was one of the founding father's of the Western Desert art movement and grew up surrounded by painters Linda Napaltjarri Syddick (born c. 1936) another well known western desert artist was adopted by Shorty Lungkata as a young girl, when he married her widowed mother.

    When Wentja Napaltjarri was young, her father and uncle took their families, including Wentja, on a journey, travelling in the footsteps of the Ancestral Emu Men of Tingarri cycles. They considered this an important part of the family cultural education and as a way of mitigating some of the risk posed by the forced settlement. They travelled from water hole to water hole. This area is dominated by high tali [sandhills], so knowledge of the exact location of kapi [water], whether hidden rockholes, claypans, natural springs, or soakages, was critical for survival. Wentja Napaltjarri and her family successfully navigated their journey out of the desert to join other relatives in settlements at Haasts Bluff somewhere between 1948 and 1950. They stayed in this area for about ten years before moving to the community at Papunya where they had other relatives.

    Wentja met her husband, Ginger Tjakamarra, who was the son of the artist Makin Napanangka while at Haasts Bluff.
    Her father allowed Wentja to paint with him. Women often helped out the men in the family with their work by doing the dotting in-fill, after the main story had been painted, characteristic of the Western Desert artists.

    Wentja began her own career there, painting for Watiyawanu Artists after moving to Mt Leibig with her husband and children. Wentja mostly paints Tingarri and Kapi, Tali (Sandhills), Watiya Tjuta (Root of Desert Oak) and Rockhole Tjukurrpa, the iconography of the important water holes and sandhills used by the Tingarri ancestors and followed by her family in the early 1940's.
    Her work has been included in the below collections and in many leading Australian and international exhibitions, including the 2003 exhibition Masterpieces from the Western Desert, in London.


    Art Bank, Sydney,
    Homes a Court Collection,
    Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
    Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
    Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
    Kerry Stokes Collection
    Thomas Vroom Collections, Amsterdam
    National Aboriginal Art and Culture Institute, Adelaide
    Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin

Showing the single artwork

Wentja Napaltjarri

Untitled, 2008
121 x 150 cm Acrylic on Linen $8,800.00