Mitjili (Mijili) Napanangka Gibson
Mitjili Napanangka Gibson (c1932 – 2011) major Pintupi artist, paints Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay) ancestral country.
Mitjili Napanangka Gibson (c1932 – 2011) was born at Winparrku (Mt Webb), near Kiwirrkura in Western Australia. Her ancestral country is Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay), Mitjili’s father’s country, located in the Gibson Desert along the Western Australian-Northern Territory border. Mitjili Napanangka Gibson belongs to the Pintupi language group, but also speaks fluent Warlpiri. Her father was speared at Mt Webb when she was very young, and Mitjili was looked after by her brother Pinta Pinta Tjapanangka.
Mitjili Napanangka Gibson’s family members were part of a Pintubi group whose first contact with white people can be dated to a meeting with Donald Thompson’s exploration party in 1957. This occurred at Lappi Lappi waterhole (Nicker Creek). The family at the time moved freely between the Kiwirrkura region, where Mitjili’s husband Tjiti Tjiti Tjupurrula was a traditional owner, through to the western reaches of Lake MacKay, which is Mitjili’s traditional estate.
While most Pintubi groups who left the desert had either moved north towards Balgo or east towards Papunya, Mitjili Napanangka Gibson’s small group had moved independently into Warlpiri country, to Yuendumu community, where they stayed for about fifteen years. Later the family group moved back towards their own homelands, first to Emu Bore west of Papunya, then to Nyirripi outstation, then to Walangurru (Kintore), where they stayed for eight or nine years. When the exhibition “Colliding Worlds- First contact in the Western Desert 1932-1984” was curated in 2006 for Museum Victoria, it included photo documents of many of Mitjili Napanangka Gibson’s family group at the time of first contact.
Mitjili Napanangka Gibson has been a painter for traditional and ceremonial purposes from a young age. While living at Yuendumu with her husband she witnessed the start of the Yuendumu artists’ movement but was not a participant. Mitjili Napanangka Gibson’s artistic success grew from 2005 when she began painting intensively in Alice Springs. Observing her talented niece, Dorothy Napangardi, inspired her to paint professionally. They share many Dreaming stories, in particular the Mina Mina Jukurrpa, a sacred site for the Napanangka and Napangardi skin groups.
Paintings by Mitjili Napanangka Gibson were bought by major collections and the artist met with critical acclaim for their rich surfaces and bold structures. Mitjili Napanangka Gibson’s reputation was further enhanced with her appearance in the award winning film Samson and Delilah, where she played the role of the grandmother of the young female lead Marissa Gibson, who is her granddaughter in real life. Aboriginal art status – Highly collectable artist
2006 Redlands Westpac Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney NSW
2006 Divas of the Desert, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney and Alice Springs
2006 Melbourne Art Fair, Royal Exhibition Building Melbourne, VIC
2007 Divas of the Desert, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney NSW
2007 The Best of the Best, Framed Gallery, Darwin NT
2007 Art Sydney, Royal Hall of Industries, Sydney NSW
2007 Inaugural Togart Contemporary Art Award (NT) , Parliament House, Darwin NT
2008 Divas of the Desert, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney and Alice Springs NT
2008 Melbourne Art Fair, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne VIC
2009 Best of the Best II, Framed – The Darwin Gallery, Darwin NT
2011 In Black and White, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
2007 Mitjili Napanangka, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs and Sydney
2008 Memories of Country, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney NSW
2009 Gallery Gondwana honours Mitjili Napanangka Gibson, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney NSW