Mitjili is a Pintupi woman from the Haasts Bluff region, located 200 km west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. She was born around 1945 and is half sister to Turkey Tjupurrula Tolson, another well-known long time Papunya Tula artist.. She married Long Tom Tjapanangka ( winner of the prestigious Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award 1999) at Papunya in the 1960s and they later lived at Haasts Bluff but now reside at Mt Liebeg.
Mitjili began painting at the Ikuntji Women's Centre in 1992. She paints her father's country called Uwalki which lies in the Gibson Desert near the Kintore Ranges, west of Haasts Bluff. This country is characterised by red sandhills, bushes and trees including the beautiful desert oaks. Her early paintings were not entirely successful, being seen as rather similar to the Papunya style paintings which she saw as a young woman. Since working with the Ikuntji artists she has developed a very strong and distinctive personal style based on her paintings of trees and country at Uwalki. She was taught some of her key imagery by her mother drawing patterns in the sand. She says: "My mother taught me my father's Tjukurrpa; that's what I'm painting on the canvas". The Dreaming stories (Tjukurrpa) behind the paintings relate to the making of spears - an important aspect of "men's business". The patterns represent the women's side of this Tjukurrpa, showing the trees (Watiya Tjuta) that provide the wood for spear shafts and other objects.
Mitjili’s canvases are patterned with strong, vibrant colours, and contain an incredible energy. This style has gained her a strong following within Australia and internationally with regular sellout exhibitions. Mitjili's work was included in the exhibition "Spirit Country: Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art" at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco 1999, and featured in the prestigious Adelaide Biennial 2000, Beyond the Pale. Her work is held in major public and private collections in Australia and overseas.
Biography courtesy of Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, WA, Australia
wife and apprentice of Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi
skin sister of Lorna Napurrula Fencer
skin sister of Mitjili Napurrula
Highly Recommended, Alice Prize, Alice Springs Art Foundation, Alice Springs, Australia (2002)
Finalist, Eighteenth Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia (2001)