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Nora Wompi Nungurrayi

(Australia 1935 – )

Language group
Kukatja, Western Desert region
Place of origin
Balgo HillsEast KimberleyWestern AustraliaAustralia
Media category
Materials used
etching and chine collé, red ink on cream wove Hahnemühle paper

25.6 x 25.3 cm image (irreg.); 24.9 x 24.4 cm platemark; 40.8 x 40.5 cm sheet

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 2003
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Nora Wompi Nungarrayi is best known as a painter working for Warlayirti Artists at Wirrimanu (Balgo). In recent years she has produced prints in association with Northern Editions print workshop at the Northern Territory University. In this print the strikingly captivating Balgo colour-fields are translated into the print medium.

Documentation from Warlayirti Artists states that this etching depicts Nora Wompi's traditional country called Kunnawarritji (Well 33), far to the south west of Balgo along the middle stretches of the Canning Stock Route. The central circle is Kunnawarritji and the fields of dotting represent the variety of bush food found in the area.

This print exemplifies the expressive Balgo style and daring use of colour that has earned this remote art community an international reputation. Although the Balgo community was some ten years behind the Papunya artists in starting up their art centre, they have quickly established themselves as a formidable presence in Australian art. While their works relate to their fellow Western Desert artists in Kintore and Kiwirrkura, Balgo artists paint with less restraint, demonstrating an immediacy and spontaneity. The preferred palette of rich reds, oranges and yellows evokes the dramatic landscape around Balgo.

Prints from Balgo are part of the move into new media for this community. The paintings style of Balgo artists translates very successfully to this medium, allowing as it does for the simulation of great depth and intense colour. Furthermore, these works captures the essence of each artist's characteristic style.

Printmaking is an increasing area of art practice for remote area communities and is particularly accessible to older, more senior artists. They allow a greater freedom of expression for less mobile artists and are less strenuous. As a result, these prints often carry the traditional authority of a community and their creation plays a valuable role in passing on cultural information to younger generations of artists.

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

Bibliography (2)

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Mollie Gowing: celebration of a passionate and generous enthusiast', pg. 28-29, Newtown, Dec 2006-Jan 2007, front cover (colour illus.), 9 (colour illus.).

Christine Watson, One sun one moon: Aboriginal art in Australia, ‘Wirrimanu: Meeting place’, pg. 219-227, Sydney, 2007, 225 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (2)

Balgo prints: a recent survey, Northern Territory University Art Gallery, Darwin, 16 Aug 2003–29 Aug 2003

Contemporary Australian prints from the collection (2004), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 03 Apr 2004–06 Jun 2004

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