Ruth Nungarrayi, Wardapi Jukurrpa (Goanna Dreaming) - Yarripurlangu
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Acrylic on Linen
This Wardapi Jukurrpa (goanna [Varanus gouldii] Dreaming) comes from Yarripilangku, south-west of Yuendumu. It tells the story of a group of Karnta (Warlpiri women) that were sitting down in a circle. A man from Mt. Theo, of the Japangardi skin group named Wamaru, came up to the women. He wanted to take a girl of the wrong skin, a Nungarrayi. He took the Nungarrayi woman, named Yurlkurinyi, and went up the hill where they made love. Then the earth turned to Ngunjungunju (yellow and white ochre) and the man turned himself and all the ‘karnta’ (women) into ‘wardapi’ (goannas). The ochre is still found on top of the hill and is used today for love magic and for ceremonial decoration. This Jukurrpa belongs to the Napaljarri/Japaljarri and Nungarrayi/Jungarrayi subsections. It also belongs to people from Mt Theo of the Japanangka/Napanangka, Japangardi/Napangardi subsections. In paintings of this Jukurrpa, the group of women is often represented by concentric circles and ‘U’ shapes typically are used to represent women. Concentric circles can also illustrate ‘wardapi’ holes and the droppings they leave while ‘wardapi’ tracks are usually represented by ‘W’ shapes.
Ruth Nungarrayi Spencer was born in Alice Springs Hospital, the closest hospital to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community located 290 kms north-west of Alice Springs in the NT of Australia. She has grown up most of her life in Yuendumu. First attending the local school in Yuendumu then moving to Alice Springs where she attended Alice Springs High School. Further studies gave her qualifications to work in administrative work. Ruth has held a number of administrative positions since leaving school. For 13 years she worked with the Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) in Lajamanu before transferring to the Yuendumu Administration Office. She has also worked for Warlpiri Media, CDEP Council, and the Yuendumu Library and is presently working for the Shire Council. She is now married to Raymond Robert Pluto and they have one young son, Korie. Ruth has been painting with an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu, since she was a teenager. Her grandfather and grandmother told her the stories of her Jukurrpa (Dreaming) but it was Daisy Napanangka Nelson (1930 – 2001) who also painted with Warlukurlangu Artists, Ruth’s Number two Grandmother or Big Sister (Wendy and Alma Sims) who taught her Yanjirlpirri Jukurpa (Star Dreaming) painting. Ruth often travels and visits family in Lajamanu, Balgo, and Kalkaringi. Aside from painting, Ruth enjoys playing basketball and softball.