Untitled Document

NANCY NUNGURRAYI – Solo Exhibition – Suzanne O’Connell Gallery

This exhibition celebrates Nancy Nungurrayi, her art and the vibrant role she plays within Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd. Her energetic dots skid and smudge across the surface of her works, as spirited and dynamic as the woman herself. Full of life, song and knowledge, Nancy’s paintings affirm her cultural authority, her iron strength and determination.

Born at the rockhole site of Mayanga near the Pollock Hills in Western Australia circa 1935, Nancy Nungurrayi spent her early years around the site of Wala Wala, west of where the community of Kiwirrkura stands today. As a young woman, Nancy travelled and hunted with her family between the waterholes and soakages scattered throughout the rocky desert terrain.

Nancy was a widow and young mother when Jeremy Long first photographed her on a government welfare patrol in 1962. The following year Nancy and her extended family decided to travel to the government settlement of Papunya. At Amundurrngu (Mt Liebig) they were met by Jeremy Long and Nosepeg Tjupurrula, who drove them the remainder of the journey.

At Papunya Nancy worked briefly at the community kitchen before remarrying and giving birth to two more children. Longing to be closer to her traditional homeland, Nancy moved to the small outstations of Yaiyai and Waruwiya, west of Papunya, before the communities of Kintore and Kiwirrkura were established in the early and mid 1980s.

In the decade that followed, Nancy’s brother George Tjungurrayi and nephew Kenny Williams Tjampitjinpa established themselves as leading painters with Papunya Tula Artists. Nancy and her sister Naata Nungurrayi were among a small group of women in Kintore and Kiwirrkura who began painting for Papunya Tula in June 1996. Nancy emerged as a respected and spirited member of the female artists at Kintore.

Meandering bands of sandhills, rocky outcrops, and waterholes unite in bold compositions that mark vast stretches of country including Marrapinti, Ngami, Wirrul, Walkalkarra and Wilkinkarra (Lake MacKay). Narratives revolving around birth, fertility, creation and well being.

Fiercely loyal and protective of her family, Nancy spends most of her painting hours alongside her sister Naata. Their relationship is bound by a love of family, bickering about past exploits and recent gossip, and a fiery competition. Often bursting into song or boisterous laughter as they paint, Nancy’s expressive personality shapes the lively atmosphere and drama of the painting studio at Kintore. Her works exude a tenacious passion, which Nancy applies to every aspect of her life.