Ancestral Symbols

5 July - 5 August 2021

‘Ancestral Symbols’, showcases the mesmerising work of Warlpiri artist Mary Brown Napangardi. Napangardi's paintings often reinterpret scenes from Women's ceremonies, including body painting designs, song lines and dance cycles. The artist harnesses traditional iconography and enticing symbols to depict flora, fauna and significant landmarks like expansive sand hills and rock holes, within her ancestral Country of Yuendumu in Central Australia. Napangardi is quickly emerging as one to watch within Aboriginal Art circles around Australia. Her works have been cited in prominent collections around the globe, including in Belgium & Switzerland. 



Napangardi was born around 1953 within a bush camp in Central Australia. The artist was brought up to lead a traditional lifestyle; learning and caring for the land, assimilating vital ancestral knowledge and the dreaming stories of her country. During her childhood, Napangardi and her family were relocated by a white man to an Aboriginal settlement within the Yuendumu Community. 


Napangardi began painting in the early 1990s and in 2005, she commenced painting for Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation in Yuendumu. Several of Napangardi’s family members are also successful artists including her sisters Jeannie Lewis Napangardi, Margaret Brown Napangardi, Margaret Turner Napangardi, and her niece Joy Brown Nangala. She is also the former partner of renowned artist Mick “Pegleg” Brown Tjampitjinpa, and the current partner of celebrated Western Desert artist, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa.


The sacred stories transposed within her work have been passed through her family for generations, though Napangardi is innovative in her ability to rethink their artistic translation with a unique, contemporary flare. Napangardi paints Womens’ stories, and the iconography and Jurrkurpa of Country with an unrestricted palette; a vital characteristic in producing a modern interpretation of her Dreamings. Canvasses are dotted with pops of fluorescent pinks, mauves and creams, while the deep red canvasses from her Symbolism series possess an entrancing quality, demanding its viewer’s engagement and consideration. Napangardi’s work possesses an unmatched magnetism and charm and are worthy of the praise they continue to receive throughout Australia and Internationally.