Aboriginal artist Alice Nampijinpa Michaels
Alice Nampijinpa Michaels

Born: 1945
Country: Nyirripi, NT
Skin Name: Nampijinpa
Group: Warlpiri
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

Alice Nampijinpa Michaels was born at Mt Doreen station, a cattle station about 55km west of Yuendumu, in the Northern Territory. While her father worked as a stockman on the cattle station, she and her family would hunt and gather food in the surrounding area. Occasionally, when they came across traditional Aboriginal people, Alice and her family would bring them a delivery of food, blankets and clothes.

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In 1946, the federal government established Yuendumu community to deliver rations and welfare services to the Aboriginal people who had been working with the Labour Corps in Alice Springs during WWII. In 1947 a Baptist mission was established there, and in the decade that followed Aboriginal people of various tribes and families from the surrounding area were forcibly relocated to Yuendumu. Alice still remembers the cattle truck that came to Mt Doreen to collect her family and many others when she was a young girl of about ten. Alice spent the remainder of her childhood at Yuendumu, attending the missionary’s school.

When she was a young woman, she married her promised husband, a man significantly older than herself. To overcome her initial shyness in his company, they moved away together to Haasts Bluff, another community some 130km away, where Alice had no family. When they returned to Yuendumu, she brought back her first child, Kelly Napanagka Michaels, who also paints for Warlukurlangu Artists and lives in Yuendumu. Alice began working at Yuendumu council, but did not stay long as she quickly had a further three children. Alice now has a big mob of grandchildren.

With the advent of the Northern Territory Land Rights Act in 1976, many Indigenous people who had been forced to live in communities such as Yuendumu began to move back onto their traditional lands. In 1983, Alice and her young family moved to Nyirripi, a community 160km southwest of Yuendumu, along with two other families that she had lived with at Mt Doreen. She has lived both at Nyirripi and Emu Bore, an outstation a further 15km west of Nyirripi, ever since.

Alice has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu, since 2006. Alice paints her father’s country at Pirlinyanu, about 170km west of Yuendumu and her grandmother’s country Lappi Lappi, near Lake Hazletl, northwest of Lake Mackay in Western Australia. When she’s not painting she likes to go hunting with her grandchildren for goanna, bush tomatoes and sweet potato.

Themes
Lappi Lappi Jukurrpa (Lappi Lappi Dreaming)
Ngapa Jukurrpa (Water Dreaming)
Ngatijirri Jukurrpa (Green Budgerigar Dreaming)
Wati-jarra Jukurrpa (Two mens’ Dreaming)

Group Exhibitions
2010 ‘Songlines’ – La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art, Bahrai
2010 Arrweketye Areyele Ayeye ileme – Mother, Daughter, Sister Show, Gondwana Gallery, Alice Springs NT
2010 Walukurlangu Artists Tour – ARTKELCH, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Leipzig, Frieburg, GERMANY
2010 Contemporary Traditions, Amelia Johnson Gallery, Hong Kong
2010 Warlukurlangu Artists – Recent Works, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2009 Nyirripi Artists, Birrung Gallery, Sydney NSW
2009 Yuru-Yururla: Womens Painting from Yuendumu, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Virginia, USA
2009 ‘Tracks’ – Bookerlowe Gallery, Texas, USA
2008 Yuendumu, Emerging Artists, Better World Arts, Port Adelaide, SA
2008 New Directions, Gecko Gallery, Broome, WA
2008 Desert Stories, Artitja Fine Art, Perth, WA
2008 Representations of Country, Artitja Fine Art, Perth, WA
2008 Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu, The Painted Door, Petaluma CA, USA
2008 Warlukurlangu Artists, the art of Yuendumu, La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art, Bahrain UAE
2007 Desert Mob, Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, NT
2007 Nyirrpi, New Work, Alison Kelly Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
2007 Contemporary Masters of the Central Desert, SF Fine Art, Sydney, NSW
2007 Vivid Visions, Warlpiri women from Yuendumu and yonder, Cooe Aboriginal Art, Sydney, NSW
2007 Water for Life, Victorian Artists Society, World Vision Exhibition, Melbourne, VIC
2007 Emerging, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney, NSW

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Painting/s by Alice Nampijinpa Michaels: