Christine Nakamarra Curtis, Mina Mina Dreaming Ngalyipi (199/19ny)
Acrylic on linen
This ‘Jukurrpa’ (Dreaming) comes from Mina Mina, a very important women’s Dreaming site far to the west of Yuendumu near Lake Mackay and the WA border. The ‘kirda’ (owners) of this Dreaming are Napangardi/Napanangka women and Japangardi/Japanangka men; the area is sacred to Napangardi and Napanangka women. There are a number of ‘mulju’ (water soakages) and a ‘maluri’ (clay pan) at Mina Mina.
In the Dreamtime, ancestral women danced at Mina Mina and ‘karlangu’ (digging sticks) rose up out of the ground. The women collected the digging sticks and then travelled on to the east, dancing, digging for bush tucker, collecting ‘ngalyipi’ (snake vine [Tinospora smilacina]), and creating many places as they went. ‘Ngalyipi’ is a rope-like creeper that grows up the trunks and limbs of trees, including ‘kurrkara’ (desert oak [Allocasuarina decaisneana]). It is used as a ceremonial wrap and as a strap to carry ‘parraja’ (coolamons) and ‘ngami’ (water carriers). ‘Ngalyipi’ is also used to tie around the forehead to cure headaches, and to bind cuts.
The women stopped at Karntakurlangu, Janyinki, Parapurnta, Kimayi, and Munyuparntiparnti, sites spanning from the west to the east of Yuendumu. When they stopped, the women dug for bush foods like ‘jintiparnta’ (desert truffle [Elderia arenivaga]). The Dreaming track eventually took them far beyond Warlpiri country. The track passed through Coniston in Anmatyerre country to the east, and then went on to Alcoota and Aileron far to the northeast of Yuendumu and eventually on into Queensland.
In Warlpiri paintings, traditional iconography is used to represent the Jukurrpa and other elements. In many paintings of this Jukurrpa, sinuous lines are used to represent the ‘ngalyipi’ (snake vine). Concentric circles are often used to represent the ‘jintiparnta’ (desert truffles) that the women have collected, while straight lines can be used to depict the ‘karlangu’ (digging sticks).
Christine Nakamarra Curtis was born in Alice Spring Hospital, the closest hospital to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community 290 km north-west of Alice Springs. She was born into a family of artists, which include Kelly Napanangka Michaels, her mother, Roy Jupurrurla Curtis, her father and Alice Nampijinpa Henwood Michaels, her Aunty. She is the eldest of 7 sisters and spent most of her childhood at Nyirripi, a remote Aboriginal community located 150 km north-west of Yuendumu. She attended her local school, then Yirara College, an Aboriginal boarding college in Alice Springs. Christine continued her studies at Kormilda College, an Aboriginal boarding college in Darwin. When she finished schooling she returned to Nyirripi where she worked in the store. “I love the place. I grew up here – learning from the old people.” Christine began painting with the art centre located in Yuendumu, in 2007. The art centre provides an outlet for Warlpiri artists to paint their cultural heritage and earn income from their work. This service is extended to Nyirripi artists, on a weekly basis, by delivering canvas and paint to artists and picking up finished artwork. Christine paints her grandparent’s dreaming on her mother’s side, Dreamings which relate directly to her land, its features and the plants and animals that inhabit it. These stories have been passed down for millennia. “I like the patterns and all those colours, and the stories. Watching family painting, they show you the dreaming.” Christine uses an unrestricted palette to develop a modern interpretation of her traditional culture. Christine has two sons, Navarone and Mahela, who attend the local school in Nyirripi. When Christine is not painting she likes to take them hunting for bush tucker and goanna.