Australian Aboriginal Artists

Ngapa (Water Dreaming)
Synthetic polymer on linen
48 x 36 in (121.92 x 91.44 cm)
Artist: Janet Long Nakamarra

Janet Long Nakamarra was born at Anningie Station. After leaving school, Janet assisted aboriginal elders in the production of books in Warlpiri while studying to be a teacher. The most important of these publications, ‘Warlpiri Women’s Voices,” was translated in English and Warlpiri. She continues to work as a linguist, writer, and lawyer. Janet began painting her Dreaming stories in 1989. In 2003, after a period of Women’s Law and initiation, the Warlpiri elders gave Janet the right to paint stories about their water Dreaming. When rain comes to the Tanami Desert, it floods rivers, billabongs and soakages. The Warlpiri used to live next to the soakages until they dried up. When there was no water on the surface, they would dig holes to tap into underground streams. In this intricately patterned painting, Janet expresses information about the rain ceremony. Janet’s Ngapa – Water paintings have layered meanings which embody the stories of the Ancestral Dreaming Spirit Man of Rain. They are important to tribal knowledge, providing the location of water sources and symbolically expressing the underground flow of water and its coming to the land as hail and rain. Janet’s painting style is an organic balance of intricate dot work and long, sinuous lines – creating a complex topographical composition, a design woven with sacred knowledge, passed down in song and ceremony for thousands of years.

Ngapa (Water Dreaming) by Australian Aboriginal Artists

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