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An image of Marpa by Lucy Yukenbarri Napanangka

Lucy Yukenbarri Napanangka

(Australia 1934 – Apr 2003)

Language group
Wangkujunga, Western Desert region
Place of origin
Balgo HillsEast KimberleyWestern AustraliaAustralia
Media category
Materials used
synthetic polymer paint on linen canvas

179.2 x 120.0 cm stretcher

Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 2003
Accession number
© Estate Lucy Yukenbarri Napanangka, courtesy Warlayirti Artists
Not on display
Further information

'Marpa' 2001 refers to some of the country of Lucy's grandparents. This country is known as Marpa, after the central rockhole shown here, and is located in the southern Great Sandy Desert. This is important women's country, who are shown throughout the painting, coming here for ceremony. The dot work throughout the painting represents some of the food available at Marpa, in particular, kantilli or bush raisin. The desert oak, or kurkapi, is also found here and depicted as the three solid bands of colour. The majority of the painting depicts tali or sand dunes which dominate the landscape of the area.

Lucy Yukenbarri comes from country that extends along the area now known as the Canning Stock Route to Jupiter Well and Well 33. This includes such sites as Marpa, Piyulpa, Winpupulla and Wirtjinti. The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture states: 'Yukenbarri is known among the Balgo artists for having invented a new style of dotting called kinti-kinti (close-close) in 1990 soon after she began to paint. Her early works followed the standard Balgo methods of forming lines by means of rows of dotting and of outlining icons in a similar way. A quietly creative artist, she then moved to another technique in use by other Balgo painters at the time - single colour fields of dotting - but she alone made a next step of moving the dots so closely together that they converged, creating dense masses of pigment on the surface of the canvas. This, together with her exploration of the visible possibilities of black icons for waterholes and soaks, and her use of dark green and blue pigments, gave her work a distinctive style, producing effects unique in desert Aboriginal art.'

Yukenbarri's husband is Helicopter Tjungurrayi who is also a Warlayirti artist.

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2003

Bibliography (3)

Alison Harper, Art and Australia (Vol. 41, No. 4), 'Aboriginal art: aquisitions by Australia's public museums and galleries', pg. 612-614, Paddington, Jun 2004-Aug 2004, 613.

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Mollie Gowing: celebration of a passionate and generous enthusiast', pg. 28-29, Newtown, Dec 2006-Jan 2007, 29 (colour illus.).

Christine Watson, One sun one moon: Aboriginal art in Australia, ‘Wirrimanu: Meeting place’, pg. 219-227, Sydney, 2007, 214 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (4)

19th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin, 10 Aug 2002–27 Oct 2002

One sun, one moon, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 03 Jul 2007–02 Dec 2007

Living Black (2007-08), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Dec 2007–12 Nov 2008

Country Culture Community (2008-09), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 Nov 2008–19 Apr 2009