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MAKINTI NAPANANGKA AM – appointed a Member of the Order of Australia

Posthumous honour for “Queen of the Western Desert Art Movement”

Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd proudly endorses the honour paid to the late Makinti* Napanangka’s lifetime achievements through her appointment as a Member of the Order
of Australia.

A former shareholder and Director of Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd, the award recognises Napanangka as a respected community member, senior Pintupi cultural custodian and matriarch to her extended family.

Foremost, she is identified as a highly esteemed artist and a leading figure in the emergence of women painters of the Western Desert Art Movement.

Papunya Tula Artists’ General Manager, Paul Sweeney reflects “History will remember her as a seminal artist and one that elevated and improved, not just her own life, but that of her entire family and to a large extent her whole community.”

Napanangka made an outstanding contribution to the international recognition of Papunya Tula Artists, by way of her highly respected artworks, yet she remained an endearing personality of the art centre and an inspiration to younger artists.

A highly collectable artist, Napanangka was awarded the prestigious Telstra Award in the 25th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2008, having been a regular finalist of numerous art awards.

To her peers she was not only a leader among Western Desert artists but a highly respected cultural identity and senior Pintupi custodian of the area south of Kintore.

Napanangka loved to paint and loved her family. As a widowed mother she took on the responsibility of supporting her large extended family from the very moment of completing her first canvas.

“I am happy for my mother. I’m happy. When Napanangka painted she was laughing and smiling. Dancing and telling stories about the early days. I am happy for people to see and know her paintings and country. She painted stories about Lupul and the time when she was young. When she painted – telling the story for Lupul, she would laugh. She was happy and laughing when she was painting in Kintore at Papunya Tula. She worried about her granddaughters and grandsons. We can see all of the paintings and this [award] makes us feel happy and proud for her”, Jacqueline Nakamarra said of her mother.

Her other daughter, Winnie Nakamarra reminisces “Napanangka worried for her family – her daughters, son, granddaughters and grandsons and great grandchildren. She was happy. Napanangka worried about making canvas. She would sit with her family making canvas and feel happy. Last year when we went to Lupul with the Papunya Tula workers she was happy. She sat on the rocks at Lupul, singing and crying for that place. Happy and laughing. Jacqueline and I are her only children now. The last ones. That [award] is for us. We want to put that [award] on our wall so that her family can feel happy”, Winnie Nakamarra said of her mother.

When nominated for this recognition last year Napanangka was living in retirement in an aged care facility in Alice Springs from where the Papunya Tula Artists Aged Care Program facilitated a fulltime nurse to enable her visits to relatives and traditional lands 500km to the west. Makinti Napanangka was in her eighties when she passed away on 9 January 2011.

* Daughters of the late Makinti Napanangka AM, Jacqueline and Winnie, have approved the use of her full name, image and artworks for reproduction.