20150212jaktman 00940
By Catherine Jaktman - Curator

Canberra, Australia

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Ngapa Jukurrpa (Water Dreaming) – Puyurru

Catalog Number: 417/14
Size: 61 x 30 cm
Stretched and ready to hang.
This is a beautiful painting, the colours are so vivid.


The site depicted in this painting is Puyurru, west of Yuendumu. In the usually dry creek beds are ‘mulju’ (soakages), or naturally occurring wells. The ‘kirda’ (owners) for this site are Nangala/Nampijinpa women and Jangala/Jampijinpa men. Two Jangala men, rainmakers, sang the rain, unleashing a giant storm. The storm travelled across the country from the east to the west, initially travelling with a ‘pamapardu Jukurrpa’ (termite Dreaming) from Warntungurru to Warlura, a waterhole 8 miles east of Yuendumu. At Warlura, a gecko called Yumariyumari blew the storm on to Lapurrukurra and Wilpiri. Bolts of lightning shot out at Wirnpa (also called Mardinymardinypa) and at Kanaralji. At this point the Dreaming track also includes the ‘kurdukurdu mangkurdu Jukurrpa’ (children of the clouds Dreaming). The water Dreaming built hills at Ngamangama using baby clouds and also stuck long pointy clouds into the ground at Jukajuka, where they can still be seen today as rock formations.

The termite Dreaming eventually continued west to Nyirripi, a community approximately 160 km west of Yuendumu. The water Dreaming then travelled from the south over Mikanji, a watercourse with soakages northwest of Yuendumu. At Mikanji, the storm was picked up by a ‘kirrkarlanji’ (brown falcon [Falco berigora]) and taken farther north. At Puyurru, the falcon dug up a giant ‘warnayarra’ (rainbow serpent). The serpent carried water with it to create another large lake, Jillyiumpa, close to an outstation in this country. The ‘kirda’ (owners) of this story are Jangala men and Nangala women. After stopping at Puyurru, the water Dreaming travelled on through other locations including Yalyarilalku, Mikilyparnta, Katalpi, Lungkardajarra, Jirawarnpa, Kamira, Yurrunjuku, and Jikaya before moving on into Gurindji country to the north.

In contemporary Warlpiri paintings, traditional iconography is used to represent the ‘Jukurrpa’ (Dreaming). Short dashes are often used to represent ‘mangkurdu’ (cumulus & stratocumulus clouds), and longer, flowing lines represent ‘ngawarra’ (flood waters). Small circles are used to depict ‘mulju’ (soakages) and river bed.


Nikkita Nangala Sampson was born in 1993 in Alice Springs Hospital, the closest hospital to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community located 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the NT of Australia. She was born to Herman and Anna Marie Sampson and has two sisters. Both her mother and Grandmother paint with Warlukurlangu Artists. Nikkita attended the local school in Yuendumu before finishing her schooling at Warowa Aboriginal College in Melbourne. Worawa Aboriginal College provides a holistic education and boarding experience for young Aboriginal women in the middle years of Schooling (Years 7-10). When she finished school in 2009 she returned to Yuendumu where she worked for the Age Care. Nikkita is a single mum and has a son born in 2012.

Nikkita began painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu, in 2011. She paints her parents’Jukurrpa (Dreamings) in particular Ngapa Jukurrpa (Water Dreaming) from her father’s side and Yurrampi Jukurrpa (Honey Ant Dreaming) from her mother’s side. These stories have been passed down over the generations for millennia and relate directly to the land, its features and the plants and animals that inhabit it. Nikkita began painting when she saw the other girls painting. “Í like the patterns and the stories.” Nikkita uses an unrestricted palette to develop a modern interpretation of her traditional culture.

When Nikkita is not painting or looking after her son she likes to go hunting for honey ants with her friend Leah.

Artwork is accompanied by Warlukurlangu Artists (Yuendumu) Art Centre Certificate of Authenticity/Provenance.


Jaktman Curator Central Desert Art contemporary art Aboriginal Artists Aboriginal art, Aboriginal art, Central Desert, Indigenious Art, outback art, Water Dreaming, Nikkita Nangala