Ningura Napurrula - Wirrulunga Rockhole

Ningura Napurrula - Wirrulunga Rockhole

2009, 92 x 31cm ADG:5682

ADG: 5682


Story of Painting

Wirrulunga Rockhole

Ningura’s painting of Wirrulunga Rockhole, near Kiwirrkura and Lake Mackay in Western Australia, represents the travels of the Ancestor Pintupi women as they travelled through the desert, performing dances and songs. The concentric circles indicate water rockholes, while the wavy lines and semi-circles are water soakages and the arcs depict rocky outcrops.

Ningura Napurrula -biography

Born c. 1938, Watulka south of Kiwirrkura, Western Australia

Language Pintupi

Country Lake Mackay, Western Australia

Community Kintore, Northern Territory

Dreamings Wirrulunga Waterhole, east of Kiwirrkura, Western Australia, Pintupi Women’s Ancestral Stories.

Ningura Napurrula was born at Watulka, south of Kiwirrkura, Western Australia c.1938. She is the widow of Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi, a highly respected Pintupi elder who held significant knowledge of his country’s dreaming stories. They had lived in the desert until meeting up with a welfare patrol led by Jeremy Long, re-settling Indigenous people from the area where the British atomic bomb tests were to be carried out. Together with their young son Maurice, they went in to the newly built Papunya Community. Ningura now lives in Kintore with her family.  Ningura’s husband Yala Yala was a founding member of the Papunya Tula Artists’ Group. Ningura also paints for Papunya Tula Pty Ltd. Ningura participated in a collaborative painting with senior Pintupi women which was included in the Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 2000.

Ningura depicts the mythological events of her ancestors. Her artworks focus on the travels of her female ancestors, the sacred sites that they passed, and the mythological significance of the bush food that they collected. In mythological times, one old woman, Kutunga Napanangka, passed through this site during her travels towards the east. She passed through numerous sites along the way before arriving at the permanent water site of Muruntji, south west of Mt. Leibig. These travels and rituals help to explain the current customs and the ceremonial lives of these Pintupi women.

Selected Collections

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

Museum de Lyon, France

Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, France

Laverty Collection, Sydney

Many other public and private collections in Australia and overseas


2001 Finalist, 18th Telstra NATSIAA, 2001

2002 Highly Commended, 32nd Alice Prize, Alice Springs

2002 ARCO, Spain


2002 Australia Post International Stamp Series

2006 Ningura Napurrula is one of eight Indigenous artists selected for the artwork in the Musée du Quai Branly building, Paris, France, opened in 2007.


2002 Australia Post Stamp Issue Art of Papunya Tula

Ranking - Most Important Australian Indigenous Artists (both living and deceased)

2011        Ranked 46/100

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