Steven Jupurrurla Nelson, Brush Tail Possum Dreaming 3202/18
Acrylic on Linen
Janganpa Jukurrpa (common brush-tail possum [Trichosurus vulpecula] Dreaming) travels all over Warlpiri country. ‘Janganpa’ are nocturnal animals that often nest in the hollows of white gum trees (‘wapunungka’). This story comes from a big hill called Mawurrji, west of Yuendumu and north of Pikilyi (Vaughan Springs). A group of ‘janganpa’ ancestors resided there. Every night they would go out in search of food. Their hunting trips took them to Wirlki and Wanapirdi, where they found ‘pamapardu’ (flying ants). They journeyed on to Ngarlkirdipini looking for water. A Nampijinpa women was living at Mawurrji with her two daughters. She gave her daughters in marriage to a Jupurrurla ‘janganpa’ but later decided to run away with them. The Jupurrurla angrily pursued the woman. He tracked them to Mawurrji where he killed them with a stone axe. Their bodies are now rocks at this place. Warlpiri people perform a young men’s initiation ceremony, which involves the Janganpa Jukurrpa. The Janganpa Jukurrpa belongs to Jakamarra/Jupurrurla men and Nakamarra/Napurrurla women. In Warlpiri paintings traditional iconography is used to represent this Jukurrpa. ‘Janganpa’ tracks are often represented as ‘E’ shaped figures and concentric circles are used to depict the trees in which the ‘janganpa’ live, and also the sites at Mawurrji.
Steven Jupurrurla Nelson was born 30 August 1978 in Alice Springs, NT. He is a lifelong resident of Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community approximately 300 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs on the Tanami road. He was raised by his late mother, Nora Nungarrayi Jurrah, and his stepfather, Frankie Jakamarra Nelson. His father John Jampijjinpa Brown was a resident of Papunya, where the contemporary Aboriginal art movement started.
Steven began painting in late 2014 after working at the art centre for some time. He typically paints ‘janganpa Jukurrpa’ (brush-tail possum Dreaming) from his mother’s side. His country is located near Nyirrpi, another remote Aboriginal community approximately 170 kilometers west of Yuendumu. His mother’s and grandfather’s country is also in this area. His mother’s country includes the Nginyirrpalangu outstation. His grandfather, Banjo Patterson, owned country that includes Ngarupalya.
Steven enjoys the work and process of painting. When he is not painting, he likes to relax at home, walk around the community with his dog Xena, and go hunting for kangaroos.