National Museum of Women in the Arts
Alice Nampitjinpa
circa 1945 - present
Photograph of Alice Nampitjinpa, courtesy of Ikuntji Artists, Alice Springs, Australia
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
AL-iss nahm-pit-jin-pah
Work Type/Media:
Decorative and utilitarian works, Painting, Textiles and clothing
Artistic Role(s):
Designer, Jewelry Maker, Mixed Media Artist , Painter, Textile Artist
Traditional Art
Artist's Biography:
Alice Nampitjinpa was born in 1943 near Talaalpi, which is a swamp near and a little bit to the east of Walungurru on the Western Australian border. Prior to painting, Nampitjinpa worked for many years at the Kintore School teaching young girls dancing and the traditions of the desert people.

Nampitjinpa started painting at Minyama Tjukurrpa, the Kintor Haasts Bluff Collaborative Canvas Project. As a painter, she is inspired by her rich cultural heritage, and thrives when involved with stories and lore. She is an active Dancing Woman who travels widely to participate in annual ceremonies and Women's Law meetings.

Nampitjinpa's Tjukurrpa is the porcupine or Tjilkamata. Her story is told in bright colors often utilizing orange and yellow to mirror the ochres that are used in ceremonial body painting. In her Tjukurrpa story, there is often the porcupine scurrying about rock holes and hiding places looking for tucker, while nearby the women are themselves hunting, lying in wait for the porcupine. Nampitjinpa is a keen hunter and likes to go hunting with Eunice Jack.

The artist was raised by her uncle, the late Uta Uta Tjangala, who was one of the original Papunya Tula painters and widely acclaimed in the art world. His Tjukurrpa is Pungkalungka at Takpalangu. Pungkalungka's are dangerous, and sometimes kill and eat people. They live in huge caves in the hills. Nampitjinpa only paints the entrance to the caves to signify the unknown danger of the monster that dwells within. Her father's country is Ngurrapalangu, and her Tjukurrpa has passed to her from this place - the porcupine was travelling through the sand hills and passing near the two carpet snakes, Kuniya Kutjarra, who were living underneath the water.

Nampitjinpa also enjoys the other crafts and is involved in producing hand-spindled hairstring for ceremonies and ininiti necklaces and mats. She regularly goes out to the bush to collect ininti seeds then laboriously pierces them with hot wire to make beads for her works.

Biography courtesy of Ikuntji Artists, Alice Springs, Australia

Other Occupation(s):
Dancer, Teacher, Aboriginal Law Woman, Hunter
Place(s) of Residence:
Related Visual Artists:
niece of Uta Uta Tjangala skin group sister of Inyuwa Nampitjinpa
Fellowships, grants and awards:
The Art of Place: The Fifth National Indigenous Heritage Art Award, Australian Heritage Commission, Old Parliament House, Canberra, Australia (2000) Finalist, Fourteenth Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia (1997) Twenty-eighth Alice Springs Art Prize, Araluen Centre for the Arts, Alice Springs, Australia (1997)
Earliest exhibition:
Inyma Tjukurrpa, Haasts Bluff/Kintore Canvas Project, Tandanya, National Aboriginal Culture Institute, Adelaide, Australia (1995)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters
Artist retrospective(s):
Alice Nampitjinpa, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia (2006) Alice Nampitjinpa and Eunice Napanangka-Ikuntji, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia (2005) Alice Nampitjinpa, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia (2000)