The stylised iconography of Pintupi artists has produced some outstanding artistic imagery that symbolises both the language and the lifestyle of the desert artists. Mitjili Napurrula is one such artist whose work is distinctive and inventive within the traditions of desert artists.
Mitjili Napurrula has a strong family connection to the central Desert art movement. Her family includes celebrated artists Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula, Long Tom Tjapanangka and Tjunkayi Napaltjarri. Mitjili Napurrula began as many of the women artists of the Central Desert did, by assisting her famous husband Long Tom Tjapanangka in producing paintings. By the 1990s many women artists emerged from the shadows of their more famous men folk to establish their own reputations as artists.
Mitjili Napurrula uses the traditional method of repeated motifs to express the extensive and significant role of the watiya trees in the Tjukurrpa rituals around the making of spears. Mitjili Napurrula was taught the ways of her father’s Tjukurrpa by her mother – the imagery was drawn in the sand to show the representations of the creation story. Mitjili Napurrula has made the iconography her own, showing the spreading root system of the watiya trees that provide the all-important wood for spear- making.
Mitjili Napurrula expresses the unique qualities that have allowed the best desert artists to provide us with imagery that is both traditional in Aboriginal terms and contemporary in world art terms. Mitjili’s long list of exhibition venues over the past twenty years is testimony to her artistic standing and quality output.