Margaret Napangardi Lewis

Jan 18, 2021

Born in 1952, Margaret is a Warlpiri woman who lives in Nyirripi and works with the official Aboriginal art centre at Yuendumu, Northern Territory, Australia.

An established senior artist, she is the daughter of senior law man and artist Paddy Japanangka Lewis, and the sister of internationally acclaimed artist Dorothy Napangardi Robertson.

Her artworks have been widely exhibited in Australia and overseas, and are part of a number of major public institutions, such as:

National Gallery of Victoria
Art Gallery of South Australia

Margaret was selected to be part of exhibition “Gestuelles – The Art of Transmission by Aboriginal Desert Women”, touring the Alliance Francaise institutions across Australia in 2012-13 (curated by IDAIA).

Margaret often paints “Mina Mina Jukurrpa”, a Dreaming related to country located far west of Yuendumu on the border of the Tanami and Gibson Desert. Mina Mina is a very important women’s dreaming site and has a long story in which a large group of ancestral women of all ages travel through the country dancing and performing ceremonies and creating the country as they go.

In the Dreamtime, ancestral women danced at Mina Mina and digging sticks rose up out of the ground. The women collected the digging sticks and then travelled on to the east, dancing, digging for bush tucker, collecting ‘ngalyipi’ (snake vine) and creating many places as they went. ‘Ngalyipi’ is a rope-like creeper that grows up the trunks and limbs of trees, including desert oak). It is used as a ceremonial wrap and as a strap to carry coolamons (food platters/bowls) and water carriers. ‘Ngalyipi’ is also used to tie around the forehead to cure headaches, and to bind cuts.

The women stopped at several sites spanning from the west to the east of Yuendumu. When they stopped, the women dug for bush foods like desert truffle). The Dreaming track eventually took them far beyond Warlpiri country. The track passed through Coniston in Anmatyerre country to the east, and then went on to Alcoota and Aileron far to the northeast of Yuendumu and eventually on into Queensland.

In Warlpiri paintings, traditional iconography is used to represent the Jukurrpa and other elements. In many paintings of this Jukurrpa, sinuous lines are used to represent the ‘ngalyipi’ (snake vine). Concentric circles are often used to represent the ‘jintiparnta’ (desert truffles) that the women have collected, while straight lines can be used to depict the ‘karlangu’ (digging sticks).

Mina Mina Dreaming, 2017 (240 × 152 cm)

In this painting we can see the snake vines represented by the sinuous lines, 3 important sites (waterholes) visited by the women, and more abstractly the sand hills, and the women dancing.

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