Desert Dreamscapes: Contemporary Aboriginal Paintings
from the
Collection of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan at the Holter Museum of Art - Page 16

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Wirrulnga, the Birthing Place, Kayi Kayi Nampitjinpa, 54” x 48” Kintore, 2000


Kayi Kayi Nampitjinpa is one of a number of Pintupi women painters who emerged in the late 90's.  Many of their husbands and sons, had been painting since the 1970's, and the women had often contributed to these paintings doing dotted infill. I can only assume that the considerable achievements of other women painters in the 1990’s, such as Emily Kngwarreye, must have been inspirational.

Like many of her contemporaries Kayi Kayi generally uses a very restricted palate, primarily black and white. The white field is composed of dots, which have been allowed to in places to in places fuse together into a rich confectionate surface. The black figurative elements were painted first with a brush and have been allowed to show through the dense field of white dots and form the symbols and linear patterning as negative space.

Pintupi women's paintings are often, though not always, centered around a campsite depicting activities taking place in relative proximity to the camp, such as food gathering. For obvious reasons, women's day-to-day lives were centered more closely around camp than men's; while men's activities tended to range further afield as do many of the stories they paint.

This painting depicts designs associated with the rockhole site of Wirrulnga, east of the Kiwirrkura community, deep in the Western Desert. Small creeks run through the surrounding area. A number of women camped here before continuing their travels on to the northeast. The place is associated with birth and while camped at the site one of the Dreamtime women gave birth. The arcs represent the rocky outcrops and the surrounding sandhills, and the prostrate woman and small figure, the mother and child. While in the area the women also gathered edible berries known as "kampurarrpa" or desert raisin from the small shrubs in that dotted the landscape.

 

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