Private Exhibition of Important Aboriginal Art
11 October 2011


born 1947

synthetic polymer paint on linen

120.0 x 80.0 cm

inscribed verso: artists name, size, Warlayirti Artists cat. 318/01


Warlayirti Artists, Balgo Hills
Private collection, Adelaide

Catalogue text

An active teacher and advocate of the importance of traditional culture, Elizabeth Nyumi was born near Jupiter Well on the Canning Stock Route in her mother's country (Nyumi) close to Kiwirrkurra in Western Australia. In 1988, Nyumi started painting for Warlayirti Artists, a community run art centre at Balgo Hills and is considered to be a founding figure in the Wirrimanu women's painting movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

In this work Nyumi addresses Parwalla, the country of her childhood. Contrasting with the conventional Balgo Hills palette of blistering reds and pinks, Nyumi's creamy pastels interspersed with jewel-like forms speak of an individual aesthetic and sensual engagement with place. Parwalla depicts the abundance of Nyumi's country, the painting dense with luminous symbols representing bush foods such as Kantjilyi (bush raisin), pura (bush tomato), and minyili (seed). Women are shown as U shapes, with their wana (digging sticks) and coolamons. The many dominating white layers are referred to as kinti-kinti (close-close) which creates a rich texture that references the seeds of spinifex which grow abundantly after the rains. In 2004, a number of Nyumi's works were included in the Biennale of Sydney, On Reason and Emotion. Within the catalogue which accompanied the Biennale, Hetti Perkins described Nyumi's paintings as expressing 'more than a nostalgic yearning for the past. The arrangement of formal elements in her works articulates the physical connection of desert dwellers to their country'.1

1. Perkins, H., 'Elizabeth Nyumi Nungurrayi in Carlos', I., (ed) Biennale of Sydney 2004: On Reason and Emotion, Biennale of Sydney, 2004, p. 162