National Museum of Women in the Arts
Makinti Napanangka
circa 1930 - present
Photograph of Makinti Napanangka, courtesy of Art Mob-Aboriginal Fine Art, Hobart, Australia
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
mah-kin-TEE NEHP-eh-nah-ka
Work Type/Media:
Artistic Role(s):
Batik Artist, Painter
Traditional Art
Artist's Biography:
Makinti Napanangka is in her seventies and is a senior Pintupi woman who resides at Kintore. She was introduced to acrylic painting in the mid-1990s as a member of the Haasts Bluff/Kintore Painting Project conducted at Kintore by Marina Strocchi, the Art Coordinator at Haasts Bluff. Napanangka quickly developed her style and has held to it, painting continuously since 1996, aside from an enforced break due to a cataract operation in 1998.

Pintupi womens' work is keenly sought after by informed collectors and major collections. The painting shed at Kintore is the base for many of the Pintupi men and women artists. It is a place to socialize and work. Napanangka generally arrives mid-morning and paints through till mid or late afternoon. She likes to sit alongside other women from the 'east' side (delineated by family connections to country) such as Tjunkiya Napaltjarri, Wintjiya Napaltjarri and Pantjiya Nungurrayi. Her paintings are often the stories of the Kungka Kutjarra (Two Women), ancestor figures whose travels cover great distances from Pitjantjajara country, then northeast through to and beyond Haasts Bluff and Papunya. Such journeys include numerous ceremonial sites, ceremonial activities, and food gathering. She also paints stories concerning the Kuningka - the western quoll - a small animal that usually lives in burrows dug by other animals. These images comprise small roundels, usually in one color with a white border. There may be just a few, none at all, or dozens of them in a painting. Napanangka's images mostly comprise hairstring skirts (these skirts are woven by the women from human hair using a simple spindle made of two sticks) and belts worn by women in ceremonies, shown as sets of lines varying in hue and density, usually in bold yellows and oranges, alternating with white. These works are cheerful and free flowing, intensified at times by the addition of a stray grey-blue line, or a patch of crimson red or purple.

Makinti is not concerned with neatness, or the painstaking 'dot by dot' approach of others. She uses a brush only and avoids using the handle end of the brush to lay down fields of neat dots. Her bands of lines form into sweeping arcs, creating patterns that twist and bend, blown by an invisible wind in many directions across the surface. Not only does she eschew the neatly structured craft of the dot painters, but she appears to have dispensed with the condition that Aboriginal art should illustrate the landscape with its Dreaming tracks and sacred sites, or, women's body paint designs. She is very different even to her Pintupi contemporaries and is at home with small or large canvases. (Though, after completing the larger canvases, she likes to rest up with smaller ones to catch her breath.)

Watching Napanangka work has been described as a remarkable experience. She sits in the middle of the canvas and begins painting her meticulous, meditative lines. With her head no more than twelve inches from the canvas, she painstakingly constructs wave upon wave of line work. Her stunning work is highly sought after and is held in public and private collections.

Biography courtesy of Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, Australia

Place(s) of Residence:
Where Trained/Schools:
Haasts Bluff/Kintore Painting Project, Kinbre, Australia
Related Visual Artists:
sister of and collaborated with Tatali Nangala student of Marina Strocchi
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Finalist, Clemenger Art Award, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (2003)
Earliest exhibition:
Kintore/Haasts Bluff Canvas Project, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, Australia (1995)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters
Artist retrospective(s):