Dorothy Napangardi (c.1950-2013) was a Warlpiri speaker from the area around the salt lake, Lake McKay near the Northern Territory / Western Australian border. She grew up hunting and collecting bush foods with her family in the traditional nomadic lifestyle led by many aboriginal people living in the area up until the late 1970’s. After coming into the Yuendumu community, Dorothy and her family moved to Alice Springs where Dorothy learnt to paint. Her early work reflected the style of the elder women such as Eunice and Pansy Napangardi, featuring bright bush banana stories with a very bright palate with textured brushwork.
It was not until some time later that she began painting her Sandhills and Mina Mina works with their monochromatic palate and fine veils of dots. The stimulus for the change was a visit to the Mina Mina area where she was able to describe the digging sticks protruding from the sand and the places important to the Warlpiri people. These works gained in popularity, both in Australia and internationally, with Dorothy being awarded several national awards (AATSIA 1991, NTAA 1998, AATSIA 2001) and featuring in the Biennale in Sydney in 2012.
Dorothy Napangardi is represented in the collections of the National Gallery, Victoria, The National Gallery Australia, Canberra, The Art Gallery of South Australia, The Art Gallery of NSW, Linden Museum, Germany, Kelton Foundation Collection, USA, among many others.
One of the highlights in her career was a major retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, NSW in 2001, cementing her place as a leading contemporary artist in Australia.
Her Paintings at Gannon House Gallery
These paintings are both a topographic map of a particular landscape and a depiction of the places ancestors traveled in the desert.From the air the sacred site of Mina Mina looks like small regular shapes with fine white edges. The area is actually soakages which are predominantly dry leaving the dry cracked earth delineated by salt, represented by the white squares in some of her paintings.
In 2002 the Museum of Contemporary Art had a major exhibition of her work, “A dance through the desert; Dancing up Country”.
Information sourced from
‘A dance through the desert’, Dancing Up Country: The Art of Dorothy Napangardi, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2002,
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